Share, Listen & Learn: What I’m Taking from this School Year
An end-of-school-year reflection interview with Shauvon Simmons-Wright, Healthier Generation National Advisor, Policy & Environment
For more than 13 years, Shauvon Simmons-Wright has supported the work of school wellness teams across the country to create healthy, happy environments where students and staff can thrive.
And as a working mom to 13-year-old son Jovon, a student at a local North Carolina middle school, Shauvon joined millions of parents, caregivers, and education professionals in the pivot to virtual learning. Here’s what she found most helpful, surprising, and above all, inspiring about this unprecedented experience.
It’s the middle of May—two months since COVID-19 forced school buildings nationwide to close. How are you feeling?
We have been fortunate to have a successful school transition, thanks in part to the access our family has to high-speed internet and my ability to work from home. But when my son came to me this week and announced he was “over it,” I could relate. So many individuals—including our kids—have been working so hard for months, under such stress and uncertainty. We all deserve a break!
What helped you most during this challenging time?
Collaboration with my son’s school administration, teachers, students, and parents. We received surveys early on to ensure an accurate view of everyone’s at-home technology capabilities—a major hurdle for so many communities nationwide—and the dialogue continued from there. My son’s teachers have invited so much feedback from the students to help make virtual learning engaging and meaningful, despite the distance.
What surprised you?
The first time I heard loud music playing when Jovon was supposed to be on a Zoom meeting, I was shocked to discover it was his teacher playing it to help the class relax and warm-up before the discussion. Or, listening in on my son and his Spanish language partner quizzing one another. I absolutely loved witnessing these moments! I’m sure that kind of openness and creativity between staff and students existed before, but as a parent, I’ve never had the chance to observe it as I have over the last few months. It’s amazing to have a daily view into this side of my child. Of course, we prepared ourselves for some bumps along the way and none of us knew how this would go. But the perseverance of my son, his classmates, and our school staff is the best surprise to come out of this crisis.
What are you carrying forward from this experience?
None of us know what school will look like over the next year, except that it will likely look very different for all of us. Community health, school policies and funding, technology access, family engagement – all of these factors and many more will play a role in shaping what “school” looks like. My hope for all of us is that the collaboration and peer-to-peer learning continue, and that we can invest further in technology training so staff and families can feel confident in their ability to adapt to our new realities.