Pelham teachers, staff: ‘In the hour of our greatest need… you found a way to give us more’

To the editor:

In March of 2020, Pelham’s teachers, staff and administrators set out on a path that had never been traveled before. Through the early days of the pandemic, when we held our breath, afraid for our families, unsure of what was next—you were there, holding court at your kitchen tables, holding our children in your hearts.

If you shared our fears—and surely you did—you didn’t show it. Instead, you showed up, day after day. You were a tiny box on a screen that became the only connection our kids had to the outside world. You taught them math and reading. You taught them empathy. You taught them courage. You taught them that you would be there for them, come what may.

As the weeks ticked on, your flexibility and creativity thrived. We watched in real-time as our kids rummaged through garages and kitchen cabinets in search of parts for Rube-Goldberg machines, annotated books, scripted infomercials, recorded songs, wrote poems. You showed them that the work of learning can carry on, and that classrooms are about connections every bit as much as they are about physical spaces.

And yet, the physical spaces matter. How it must have felt last June, to return to offices and classrooms frozen in time, the calendar stuck on March 13, as you piled our children’s belongings into plastic trash bags, knowing some of them would never return to our hallways, or play on our sports fields. But if you despaired—and surely you did—you kept it to yourselves. Instead, you drove by in car parades, you delivered tote bags and t-shirts, you set up scavenger hunts and hammered Class of 2020 signs into freshly-mowed front lawns. In the hour of our greatest need, as we struggled with all that we had lost, you found a way to give us more. More time, more love. More of yourselves.

This year, you have continued to move heaven and earth to educate our students, to return them to their physical spaces and to keep them safe. If you are exhausted—and surely you are—you haven’t shown it. Every time we have asked for something, you have delivered it. You have moved furniture, rearranged entrances, re-designed protocols, set-up tents. You have manned the doors, collected the forms and taken the temperatures. You have created new bell schedules, new cohorts, new policies and new greetings.

You have cleaned, and cleaned, and cleaned again.

You have kept our kids on grade-level, caught them up on what they’ve missed, identified their struggles, found additional resources. You’ve given them second chances when they’ve bombed a test, grace when they’ve needed to turn off their cameras, understanding when they’ve needed to step into your office. You’ve created community through online spelling bees and social studies kahoots, read-alouds and recorder lessons, remote jazz concerts and video musicals, break-out rooms and brand-new clubs, sports-team practices, no-spectator games and, yes, even Olympics. Despite the masks, the barriers, the testing, the quarantines, the schedules and the uncertainty, you have found a way to create normalcy in the most challenging time of our lives.

When the story of the pandemic is written, there will be many heroes, but you will be at the top of our list. Your triumph over impossible circumstances is nothing short of astonishing, and your dedication not only to your craft but to the children and families of this community has made all the difference, not only in this past year, but in every year.

We will never be able to fully express our appreciation, but know that we are tremendously grateful for all the things you do for our children and our schools.

From the bottom of our hearts, we, as community members of the Pelham Re-Opening Advisory Task Force, thank you.

Erin Ginsburg

9 Boulevard


Dr. Kusum Mathews

Dr. Jason D’Amore

Dr. Tracy Breen

Kristen Burke

Stephanie Otero

Cheri Pitamber

Alexandra Drinkwine

Jessyka Calzolaio

Theresa Pignone

Kevin Ritchie

Tara Weishaupl

Jackie DeAngelis

Dr. Tiffany Hebert

Laura Caruso

Leah Tahbaz