July 12, 2020
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Part VI: Life behind the closed door

By: Cassandra May Albaugh
May 1, 2020

Entering the sixth week of this series, I was able to interview another voice from our community. Her voice adds yet another layer of diversity, commonality and perspective to this series. She has been following the series and she said she loves it: “I think it’s important to read something and then think, that’s how I feel too.” Her words captured my hope for the series. I thank her for those kind words.

This week’s interview was with a teacher from our Cotati Rohnert Park School District. She and her spouse live in Rohnert Park with their pets. In addition to the negative impacts on their retirement funds, they’ve taken additional hits to their income. His job wasn’t essential nor was it conducive to working from home, so he’s been furloughed. Fortunately, because of her job, they still have healthcare and some income coming in. She feels fortunate that she has parents and family to rely on for financial help if needed, but she is also torn. She said: “I feel we should be able to help my parents, not them having to help us.”

Her spouse has additional risk factors, so other than walking their dogs three or four times a day, they are limiting themselves to a once a week trip to the stores for essentials. She was able to go get materials from the school site a couple of times to help her create online materials for her students. She can get depressed at times so she’s staying busy so that she doesn’t slip into one of her depressed moods. It also helps that’s she’s learned how to use applications for video technology. Not only does that allow her to work from home with her students but also to stay in touch with her family and friends.

Speaking of her kids, she’s been able to engage with all of them. None have fallen through the cracks. They are attending video conferencing and doing their work, thanks to the school district passing out the Chromebooks. About 80 percent of her students required those loans. They didn’t have laptops or desk computers in their homes. The student population at her school is heavily Latino. She also has a few African Americans, Asian Americans and Caucasian students in her class. Many of her students have parents working in essential jobs, so they’re being guided in their school assignments by an older sibling or a parent not in an essential job. 

One aspect of teaching online is that she gets a glimpse of her kids’ and their home life. She says this has expanded her view of her kids. Unlike in the classroom, she gets a more “entire person” aspect on them and their families. She’s amazed at how her kids have adapted to the technology and process of on-line learning. She’s “proud of them!” They are worried about next year. Will they be able to go back to school, advance to the next level? Right now, assignments are simply pass/fail. She advised that if they do the work, they’ll be alright for next year. She’s getting very few complaints. However, a few parents did express concern that there was too much work for the kids to get done.

It’s not all bad she said. She appreciates that things have slowed down, that she’s not busy all the time. She has time to relax, read and interact with her family and friends. She’s not worried about her parents too much. They live in a small community and remain active and in good health. Her sibling was able to work from home so they’re okay too. She agrees with others that it’s nice to see people helping each other. She’s always been passionate about being a teacher so she’s glad she can still interact and help her kids keep learning during this difficult time.

Once more, I want to thank her for sharing her story with us. It’s not easy to share your story. However, if you’re interested in sharing your story with me for possible use in the future, you can contact me at I also want to thank her for being a teacher. Like nurses, grocery store employees, delivery or truck drivers, postal workers, other first responders and essential workers; we sometimes take them for granted. During this period, hopefully we’ve come to appreciate them and the work they do, more fully. Until next week, please be safe and stay healthy.