To The Teachers Of The World — This Is What Matters In The End

As a virus spreads in our world and takes us into uncharted waters, shutting down schools and universities, we have to learn new coping mechanisms, new ways of thinking — and new ways of learning.

Teachers across the world are learning what it means to remote teach. The stress was felt globally putting together last minute packets, Google classrooms, all the while trying to answer questions from students and anxious phone calls from parents.

Teachers are worried. Parents are tired. Administrators are trying.

Teachers are perturbed about regression. Special ed teachers are concerned about high risk students and how they’re coping all the while trying to manage accommodations virtually. Every single teacher, school counselor, nurse, and administrator have no idea what to expect upon the return of school — or even when that will happen.

Students are missing out on memories we all hope they will get the chance to have while proms are cancelled, high school graduations are post poned, and university students dreams feel halted.

Students everywhere are missing their friendships, teachers, and schools. Teachers and school professionals across the world want to be back in the classroom with their students, and it’s a loss that is felt in every teachers heart. But this won’t stop teachers from showing up, because if there’s one thing teachers can never fail at — it’s being there for students even in the hardest of times.

Stress can bring out the worst in people. And while teachers are coping with grades, tests, and daily assignments, there’s one thing that will matter more than anything after all of this is over:

Student’s mental health will be more important than their academic skills.

How our students will feel by the time this is over will impact their lives more than having not finished the essay on a book assignment. They need to feel safe, loved, and supported through these times where they are witnessing high stress.

Though students should definitely try their best, we have to remember parents are also doing their best while remote working and taking care of their family full-time. Students can’t raise their hand and expect immediate help from their teachers anymore, so naturally there’s going to be frustration. There’s going to be incomplete assignments. There’s going to be a lot of tears, melt-downs, regression, and complete start-overs — but it will take ten times as much work re-building our students mental health and also our own during these trying times if we don’t keep perspective.

Every single one of our mental health matters. It doesn’t vanish because of a pandemic. Everyone is more fragile. So, if you’re in the field of education and are responsible for the learning of others, be kind to yourself. Give grace to your students. Be patient with parents.

We’re all trying our best in this, and we’re all in this together.

Corine’s Story: Not All Heroes Wear Capes

A rare disease is lonely. What makes it more lonely is when you have a disease no one’s ever heard of like NMO (Neuromyelitis Optica or Devics).

It’s not like Multiple Sclerosis or Narcolepsy where you immediately have a picture of the disease because of its national awareness. Neuromyelitis optica doesn’t roll off the tongue well, and it sounds more like the name of a transformer or in my husbands’ words, a Decepticon. NMO doesn’t get a lot of traffic like MS, even though the two are very similar and many people have been living with a misdiagnosis of MS for decades when the underlying disease was NMO.

The reason NMO has its own identity now is because of a specific antibody that MS doesn’t have, and it requires a different treatment — different treatment that could mean a matter of life or death. A treatment that means a better quality of life. A treatment so that babies like Corine Craig, can live a normal life.

Corine Craig, pictured at 3 years old.

Corine was officially diagnosed with NMO on March 3rd, 2019 after her second birthday. Her spinal cord is covered with lesions and her most recent NMO attack was optic neuritis (which is a painful inflammation that damages the optic nerve — causing blindness). She can hardly see from both eyes and has the anti-body count of an adult. Corine’s doctors don’t understand how she is still walking.

According to Pharmacy Times, approximately half of patients with NMO will lose their sight and the ability to walk 5 years after a diagnosis.

Christa Craig, Corine’s mother, explains the hardship of watching her daughter cope with NMO.

“It’s heartbreaking to watch her endure this disease. It’s so hard for me, because Cori can’t tell me exactly how she feels — just that her feet hurt, or her eyes hurt, or her back.”

Christa Craig

One of those heartbreaking moments was when Corine was taking a bath and Christa heard whispers of, “It’s gonna be OK.” Corine was gently assuring herself out loud in the tub when her pain levels were high.

I don’t know what it’s like to be a caregiver, but I know that most patients with a debilitating disease need one. We need someone to hold our hand in pain, help us get out of a hot bath, or gently soothe us to sleep. Thankfully, Corine has her mother, including many that love her.

Corine is scheduled for a stem cell transplant in the hopes of reversing the disease completely. She will likely lose her hair and go through side effects, but this just goes to show her and her mothers’ strength; their hope for something greater. The possibility of a disease-free life — a chance to take back childhood. A chance to doodle with smelly markers or run in a yard of green grass without pain.

Disappointment will always be there. Loss will always come. Illness strikes good people, innocent children. It takes away childhood, bright dreams, and normal life. Corine and Christa know this well.

But it can’t take away the fight for those things. Disease may altar lives, but it doesn’t mean we let the things we can’t do keep us from doing the things we can do.

Corine is an eminent example of this. She’s a hero to so many of us that suffer from a rare disease. She fights a disease that we as adults can barely cope with. But she lets us know that no matter what life throws our way, it’s going to be OK.

So, we stand together for Corine and her mother in the hopes of getting what they truly deserve. May she continue to laugh, persevere, and get her nails painted at home rather than long hospital stays.

Corine is our hero without a cape. We take her fighting spirit with us in our hearts, as we learn to cope with our own illnesses, in the graceful fight that she radiates.

To donate to Corine & Christa click here.