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See you later, Miss Genevieve

| Friday, September 10, 2021

In one of my education classes last week, my professor asked us how we can instill a sense of wonder in our students and in ourselves. I’ve been turning this idea over in my head ever since because I miss the fleeting wonder of my summer job at Notre Dame’s very own ECDC.

Flash back with me for a second.

Last semester, I was looking for a chance to get back into the classroom — and really, back into the world after not being able to finish my first field placement in 2020.

Soon after my interview, I was asked to join what is known colloquially as “the big kid room” — the redecorated gross motor room converted into a classroom for seven to 10-year-olds during the summer.

I knew that I was in for a long summer of lesson planning because I was hired as an assistant teacher, in addition to my roles as drama director and creative writing instructor.

But what I didn’t realize was how much my kids would make my work worth it.

Despite the challenges of learning names with masks, making the summer entertaining without traditional field trips and adjusting my teaching strategies to comply with social distancing, I formed a bond with my students that I will never forget.

A year and a half into the pandemic, I was growing weary of the “new normal,” since I felt the world was still so unsettled, normalcy couldn’t be achieved. I wasn’t ready for normal — and I don’t think normal wasn’t ready for me.

I was optimistic for a good summer, but not expectant for one, so I wouldn’t disappoint my students or myself.

But then one of the kids would shout, “Miss Genevieve, look!” and show me the hummingbird that would come by our window every day.

And then a child trusted me hold her stuffed animals when she went off to play.

And a group of girls taught me to be a skilled mentalist.

And my class worked together to surprise me on my birthday.

And before my eyes, my students became capable actors, stage crew members and director assistants who wanted to put their energy toward making sure everyone had a good show.

And the only thing that mattered during work hours was the well-being of my students.

Looking back, I got to witness the resilience of kids who had been shuttled between online and in-person school, had sick family members and experienced unimaginable turmoil in their childhood.

The kids who still found wonder in a world that had denied it to them for much too long.

And now, I get to take these memories with me — of a time where I learned more from children than I could have possibly taught them.

So, here’s Miss Genevieve signing off and saying see you later, not goodbye, because she doesn’t ever want to lose her grasp on the hope she got from teaching this summer.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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About Genevieve Coleman

Genevieve Coleman is a junior at Saint Mary's majoring in English literature and secondary education with minors in theatre and creative writing. She currently serves as Saint Mary's News Editor.

Contact Genevieve