tag! Board Member, Kaneika Nimmons, is a Behavioral Dean at a St. Johns County Title One school. The weight of being separated from the students she serves daily is heavy, but drives her.
“As I placed my groceries on the counter, I found myself in a mental whirlwind. I felt as if my mind was playing tricks on me. I had already sanitized my grocery cart five times, but I still felt it wasn’t enough. My social distancing radar was in full effect and if it were a real thing, sirens would be wailing, alerting me of the masked woman standing in line behind me, who seemed to inch closer and closer towards me every second. I began to ponder, is she wearing a mask to protect herself from others or to protect others because she is suffering from the infamous COVID-19? My emotions were on overload, all while praying the cashier wouldn’t take offense to me placing my coupons on the counter instead of in her gloved hand.
The feelings of being in a real live horror story were interrupted by the high-pitched sounds of, “Mrs. Nimmons, Mrs. Nimmons!!” I looked up to find a very excited, bright-eyed kindergartener, who attends the school where I work. Her arms were stretched wide, as she ran towards me. Through outbursts of laughter, she gave me a tight squeeze and asked, “When are we going back to school?” At that moment, the social distancing rules did not apply, as I was so grateful. Grateful, that a five year old little girl, took me from a place of darkness and brought me back to a feeling of hope, a feeling that everything was going to be ok.
My eyes followed the student until she and her mom were no longer in sight. As I exited the store and walked to my car, my thoughts were again in a mental whirlwind. Are they eating? Do they have adequate shelter? How often and how long are they left at home alone? Are they being neglected? Are they in an abusive situation? Do they have the necessary supplies and materials for an effective homeschool experience? Daily hugs are so important, are they getting them? Are they surrounded by or lacking unconditional love? In the absence of the daily adventures of being surrounded by over eight hundred kids, these are just a few questions that consume my entire existence.
Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the lives of every student, teacher, administrator and school-based personnel have been forced into a new normal. This new way of existing comes along with an abundance of losses, for students and teachers alike. During this devastating time, we miss our students, we worry about our students, we love our students and pray they are well. As we press forward, in this new normal, we will remain on the front lines of education, giving our best effort, to be the calm in the storm for our students, remaining hopeful, that everything is going to be ok.”
– – Kaneika
Kaneika Nimmons has a Master’s degree in both Educational Supervision and Administration and Business Administration. She is in her 13th year as an elementary educator and specializes in exceptional student education in grades PreK-5th.