Mary Ross Olsen, Kindergarten Teacher, at home with her husband, Steve Olsen, and stepson Harrison.
"I worry about my parents and my husband's parents who are in the COVID 'most affected' age group even though they are healthy and vibrant. I worry about my youngest niece Stella (who just turned 1) because she is growing up in a world that is changing day by day and I want the best for her. I worry for my stepson Harrison who is grappling with fears of what happens if... I worry for my students and their families.
Last spring I visited (socially distanced on front porches, front steps) students to help with distance learning, to help with technology, to bring school supplies, etc. My first thought was not my personal safety, it was my students. I am torn with that thought because my safety also affects my family and it's a balancing act...
Before the murder of George Floyd I would have simply stated either 'I am not racist' or 'I don't see color'. I now realize how simplistic and inaccurate those statements are. As a teacher I have gone through many training sessions around equity and bias. I truly believed that it didn't apply that much to me. I have worked with BIPOC children and families for 25 years and have always thought I was doing things right, fair and equitable. But guess what. White privilege.
The murder of George Floyd caused me to have a transformational shift in my thinking. It's not enough to be not a racist, I need to be anti-racist. I have to acknowledge that by virtue of my race, I have privilege. As a step-parent, it is up to me (along with my husband and Harrison's mom) to raise him in a world where he can make a difference, where he can be aware of race and racism and have difficult conversations.
We took him to the George Floyd memorial site and it was solemn, sacred, sad and joyful all at once. I want his life to matter and I want to be better able to be humble as an educator. I want to get to know children and families and work hard to break down barriers and admit my shortcomings and learn from those around me."