By Guest Blogger Stuart Egan, a local high school teacher

Let’s state the obvious. This is not how it should have happened. A little over three weeks left in this odd “summer break” and most high schoolers will return to remote learning after finishing the last school year without in-person classes.

Yes, this is a bad set of circumstances on many levels. But if there is any piece of advice that I have heard given to any of my students in the past few months that has really resonated with me, it is this: “Handle this time of adversity in a manner so that when you look back on it, you can honestly reflect that you grew from it.” That involves both having perspective and expanding your notion of what learning really can be.

My grandmother, who is still alive and remains wickedly sharp, lived through the Great Depression. My grandfathers were overseas during WWII. My mother lived during a war that claimed the lives of many of her childhood friends. I remember 9/11 like it was yesterday. The sacrifices that so many before my time made in the past to overcome different obstacles puts today’s pandemic into perspective for me.

And learning is not always something that can be measured by some standardized test. One of the greatest skills any student can work on is being a self-guided and self-motivated learner. Colleges value that. Workplaces value that. These next few weeks could still be a time where you can work on so many things that no test would ever be able to measure, but the rest of your life could reap benefits from.

Be a bigger part of your family. Help your parents with things around the house. Pursue a curiosity. Reach out to loved ones. Have meaningful conversations. Write letters. Read great books. Help your younger siblings. Do outside yard work for older people (socially distanced of course). Look into possible college majors. Learn or relearn a musical instrument. Do the housework. Learn to cook or get better at it. Call people instead of text. Exercise your mind and body.

Learn what you have taken for granted and become more grateful for those very things. Be there for people who really need your help and support. Be the person today that you reflect upon later and can honestly say that you did not let this current situation keep you from growing as a person.

For those students who will be applying to colleges and universities this fall, the Common Application that so many institutions use will offer a space for prospective students to discuss their experiences with and the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Imagine what your answer would be and could be.

Schools will eventually reopen, and when they do, we will be wiser and in many ways more grateful for the opportunity to learn together within an in-person community. Until then, how we adapt and act upon what still is an uncertain time is its own test, one that has no numerical grade.

~ For more blogs on Education, click here.
~ For another perspective on school next year, read this recent TMoM blog: School 2020: Making the Best of This Reality.
~ Want to see more blogs like this and get notifications on local events and happenings? Subscribe to our free weekly newsletters here.