“When two vowels go walking, the first one does the talking.” 

My furloughed kindergartener sat on a kitchen stool, legs tucked under a fluffy pink skirt, pencil clutched tightly in her hand. As she bent over the spelling sheet on the countertop muttering the familiar rhyme, she sighed. “I miss Miss. McKibbin, Mom.”

RELATED: Dear Students, We Didn’t Even Get to Say Goodbye

An unexpected pang of sadness hit me. 

“I miss her too, kiddo.” 

In fact, I’m supposed to be sitting down across from her right now for parent-teacher conferences. Instead, I’m sorting through messages from the school district about e-learning plans and connecting with the kids’ teachers via educational apps, all in preparation for . . . whatever comes next. 

It’s given me a deeper appreciation for the heroes we call teachers. 

This week, as we’ve been digesting nonstop news about COVID-19 and what its spread means for our communities, our country, and the world, our teachers have been meeting to make alternative plans for the remainder of the school year.

And I have a feeling they’re working harder than any of us realize to make sure our kids—who have suddenly lost so much—are not only educated, but loved a little extra. 

RELATED: Dear Class of 2020: It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way

They’re thinking outside a box that was definitely not advertised in any of the teacher training they completed.  

They’re posting videos to social media just to say hello to students who are feeling anxious and confused.  

They’re developing lesson plans that parents who never expected to be homeschoolers will be able to carry out at home. 

They’re keeping a sense of humor and tapping into a brand of creativity people like me could only dream of having. 

They’re checking in on us—and more importantly, on our kids. 

RELATED: Your Heart is Hurting With School Ending This Way—And So is Your Mama’s

In this time of social distancing, the men and women behind one of the most social aspects of our lives are stepping up. 

And we are so grateful. 

I’m not sure how long it will be before I get to sit down with Miss McKibbin for that parent-teacher conference we should be having today. Weeks? Maybe months? The unknown feels heavy and unsettling. 

But I do know one thing: in the time between now and then as we adjust to what school has to look like in the time of coronavirus, my appreciation for her and the thousands of other teachers, staff, and administrators who are doing so much more than their jobs will only grow. 

(And you better believe I’ll be giving her a great big hug as soon as the CDC says it’s socially acceptable.) 

Carolyn Moore

Carolyn traded a career in local TV news for a gig as a stay-at-home mom, where the days are just as busy and the pay is only slightly worse. She lives in flyover country with her husband and four young kids, and occasionally writes about raising them at Assignment Mom