Let's be real here; the last year has been brutal. Like, really, really bad. I think it was the hope of most parents just to get through this excruciating time, as best we could. We all knew it wouldn't be great though. When the world started to fall apart because of COVID, my first concern was how it would impact my kids and their education. This was especially true with my youngest daughter, who would be starting kindergarten, the foundation of her educational journey, in the fall of 2020. If we didn't have a handle on the pandemic by then, it had the potential to disrupt her learning for the rest of her life.
Well, as it turns out the worst-case scenario happened in the United States, especially in California. By the Fall of 2020 things with Covid had not improved. The world seemed to be in a worse state than it had been in the late winter. My daughter was going to start school through Zoom during a pandemic, with distance-learning only half-figured out, which was obviously not the ideal picture we had planned. A lot of the pressure of educating my children was falling to my shoulders and I was terrified. How was I going to handle establishing my daughter's foundation for schooling, forever?
Enter Mrs. Katie Takanishi, a new kindergarten teacher at our local elementary school. I was terrified of the entire situation. How was this new teacher, at a new school, with a bunch of freshly new five-year-old students going to handle this COVID era schooling? The answer was: brilliantly.
Not only did she show up with flashcards to teach the kids Zoom in about 5 minutes, and I'm not going to lie, I listened in and learned a lot myself, but also she handled everything with a grace, compassion, and patience that was otherworldly.
This year has been hard on all teachers, I'm sure. Kindergarten teachers especially so. Mrs. Takanishi not only encouraged her students to survive the pandemic, they thrived. My daughter not only loves her teacher, but loves "school" and is eagerly awaiting the return to in-person instruction. I wish I could explain in detail how Mrs. Takanishi achieved this during such a troubling time, but it's tantamount to wizardry (that's my best guess.) If you could bottle up her method and sell it, you'd be a billionaire.
It's important to acknowledge and honor the role models in our, and more importantly our children's lives, but I think it's especially important to recognize them when times are more challenging. There hasn't been a more challenging time in our country, in my lifetime, than right now. My kids are living through it, and it's teachers like Mrs. Takanishi that are setting them up for future success. The panic that I felt in the approaching year, the dread I suffered, was all relieved within the first couple weeks of her kindergarten class.
Never have I seen a teacher face such adversity, unstable ground, unknowns and stressed-out unruly and terrified parents. Not only did she put up with us (THANK YOU) but also she answered every question with patience and poise.
My daughter loves school, loves learning, and is thriving. It's all because of a teacher taking the extra time to focus on every child in an effort to encourage the basis of a strong education.
Please consider this my most sincere and heartfelt recommendation and nomination for Mrs. Takanishi.