By Charles Sosnik
Every year, I publish a column somewhere in the education press around the time of the Thanksgiving holiday with a “What are You Thankful For” theme. During this time of COVID-19 and WFH and remote learning and all the other unforgettable things about 2020, I find that I am more grateful and more optimistic than at any other point in my life. And after 60 long, hard years of being rode hard and put up wet, that is a remarkably bold statement.
If you have your health…
For the past nine months, I have been living like a hermit. I no longer travel. I no longer physically visit my friends. I rarely even go to the grocery store, thanks to Amazon Fresh. I have underlying health conditions and I am an avid watcher of the news, a deadly combination which tends to drive paranoia. I am keenly aware that a coronavirus infection could be deadly. My good friend Rod, who is a healthy and spry 40-something, contracted COVID-19 this past March and it almost killed him –he had an extended hospital stay and all kinds of complications. If COVID can do that to my friend Rod, what chance do I have?
So why am I grateful? In the past nine months, I haven’t had so much as a cough. My significant other and love of my life, Kristina Holloway, goes everywhere, but she too is healthy. My youngest son Aidan, who is still in high school, has had his healthiest year ever. My middle son Stone is away at college, and even though kids all around him are testing positive, he continues to test negative. My oldest, Gage, who enters houses daily as a heating and air specialist, is a 25-year-old picture of health. I watch the news every night as NBC’s Lester Holt tells America we have just broken the previous day’s record for coronavirus infections, but somehow, I remain healthy. Just like Kristina. And Aidan. And Stone. And Gage. Everyone I love is being protected by our angels. I am beyond grateful for that.
It’s the Work that Gets Me Through
I have devoted the last 13 years of my life to the education of our nation’s children. For me, it is beyond a calling. It is now my life’s work, and the most important thing I will ever do. I came to education late in life, after a 27-year career in the media. As a writer, editor, publisher and producer, I thought I had done just about everything there was to do in the media world. When I was 47, I sold my publishing company and began looking for something to do with my life. I considered retirement, but that required a regimen of playing golf badly on a regular basis. And besides, after a couple months with no professional grief, I was going out of my mind with boredom.
After a bit of soul-searching, I took a position as editor of a regional education magazine, and I found it fascinating. I began speaking to everyone I could, and everyone I encountered was so passionate. I had long, involved conversation with teachers, superintendents and countless education entrepreneurs. To a person, everyone I spoke with was filled with passion and eager to share. It didn’t take long before their passion became my passion, and I was hooked. I began to believe that the first 27 years of my professional life were merely a dress rehearsal, and my real career was just beginning. As a media writer, editor, publisher and producer, I was making a living. In education, I was making lives better. Here it is in 2020, and the work is more important than ever. And with the Learning Counsel, I am right in the thick of things. And I am grateful.
Change is Gonna Come
One of the things I am most grateful for is the change in education that the pandemic is bringing. As the immortal Sam Cooke said, “It’s been a long time, a long time coming. But I know a change gonna come, oh yes it will.” For too long, it has simply seemed too hard to make the changes necessary in education. If you follow my writing, you know that change has been a mantra of mine for quite some time. But until the arrival of the Coronavirus pandemic, real change always seemed too hard. There were just too many obstacles, and we simply didn’t have the will to reach deep and make the systemic changes necessary to really move education. This year, I am grateful for the changes that that are beginning now and will continue long after COVID-19 is in the rearview mirror. Perhaps only something as extreme as a pandemic of epic proportions could spur us to the kinds of changes necessary. But here we are, and the change gonna come. And I am grateful.
About the author
Charles Sosnik is an education journalist and editor and serves as Editor in Chief at the Learning Counsel. An EP3 Education Fellow, he uses his deep roots in the education community to add context to the education narrative. Charles is a frequent writer and columnist for some of the most influential media in education, including the Learning Counsel, EdNews Daily, EdTech Digest and edCircuit. Unabashedly Southern, Charles likes to say he is an editor by trade and Southern by the Grace of God.