One Month Remote Debrief

Well, this is a weird one.

Near the end of February, I began planning a Spring Break Debrief. I was eager to hear about vacations and days off and make fun of Mr. Jividen for watching The Office the whole time. Then we came back. Then March 13th happened, we left all over again, and here we are.

I often find myself feeling (sincerely) compelled to attach caveats or conditions to everything I do nowadays, especially things I do. Of course we are living in a world of concern and confusion, and we are so very blessed to be able to sit and write funny responses to goofy questions from the comfort of our homes. And of course, we so appreciate the hard work of those on the front lines, the ones keeping our world afloat and the ones who leave their homes so we can live in ours. But, sometimes the mundane and the downright silly have their place, even if it’s just to read something mundane or downright silly for a few minutes again. So, without further ado, our faculty discusses everything from feelings to memes to recipes and quarantine recs.

Hope you enjoy our musings after one month remote. And as always, click the links!

First and foremost, how are you doing? Feeling ok?

Liz Hofreuter: That question resembles “how was school today?” It’s a tough question actually, so the shortcut answer is “fine.” The amount of anxiety and stress on everyone is palpable.

Mat Robinson: Anxious, irritated, worried, inspired, healthy so that’s a plus.

Elizabeth Hladek: Ya know, I’m honestly just fine. My family is healthy and safe and the characters I’m stuck in this house with are pretty fun.

Michael McDonald: I’m doing well, really. The kids have been a huge help and really took this thing and ran with it. Their independence allows me to sustain a healthy balance between work and home life. Sure do miss seeing everyone in person, though.

Claire Norman: Overall, I am feeling okay. But it goes in waves…sometimes I am all in, “Let’s do this!” mentality, while other times I am dealing with a lot of anxiety. I just try to take it day-by-day and work through it.

Julie Cartwright: Define OK. Today? Yesterday? Now? How many ranges of emotions is one person allowed?

Luke Hladek: Yeah seriously. I feel like every day I’m every one of those characters from our faculty Halloween costumes this year.

Bridget Rutherford: Feeling good.

Give me your Tweet length review since March 13.

Liz: One day at a time.

Mat: I said in our first meeting I felt 100 about WCDS undertaking this Online shift and I’m so glad I did.

Elizabeth: ‘Is the sun shining? Please tell me the sun is shining.’

Michael: Daily Routines? We threw it all out the window, creates new approaches, and hit the ground running, school-wide.

Claire: What day of the week is it?

Julie: Thedaysgobysofast.

Bridget: I’m keeping busy and my days seem to fly by. I have a long way to go before I run out of things to do.

Luke: You people are BORED?!

What has been the most surprising part of the last month to you?

Liz: The beauty of our natural world when it had a chance to rest and renew.

Claire: The most surprising part of the last month has been how quickly things can change from one day to the next.

Mat: How little moments end up being big moments.

Elizabeth: How quickly a day can go and how few pairs of sweatpants/athleisure I own.

Michael: Surprising? I could write a book. For times sake, how about we just talk about how impressive the continual maturity and growth of this fifth grade class has been?

Bridget: That the kids are true to themselves. It is great to see their personalities just as when we were in school, just behind a screen now.

Julie: My dishwasher. We are up to twice a day!

Luke: Every day I’m surprised when I look at the clock and see it’s like 4:15 when I think it’s 11:00 am. Oh and if I look in the mirror without a hat on…

Go ahead and pat yourselves on the back a bit. What is a personal prideful event since we’ve gone remote?

Liz: The interview with Glynis (on WVPB)

Mat: I’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback from SK parents about art, which is great.

Elizabeth: The morning greeting Bri and I recorded for our kiddos is my favorite…so far.

Bridget: I’m proud of how I work with the kids in small, focused groups or one-on-one more often.

Michael: I’ve always heard that my generation is ‘technology gifted’ and it’s been helpful as of late. I’ve truly enjoyed helping others learn new things about Zoom, Google Classroom, or even just their computers.

Claire: Since we have gone remote, we bought a house!

Julie: According to my class, The Science of Wellbeing, that’s my lowest character quality. I’m not a prideful somebody. So my pat on the back is that I now recognize it?! (Well maybe…I’m only in week 2.)

Luke: Yeah I can’t do it. But boy am I proud of my wife. She’s basically taking care of two children here at home while also caring for 22 others. It’s been amazing to watch.

We all need content right now. Give some quarantine recs. What are you watching/reading/listening to?

Liz: My daughters.

Mat: Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End by Atul Gawande, Shel Silverstein, vinyl mostly.

Michael: Thankfully Blacklist and Manifest have been around, but I am in need of another show if anyone wants to recommend. (

Claire: My biggest quarantine recommendation is to get out of the house. Take a walk, go for a run, just sit on your porch and breathe in some fresh air. My daughter and I have also been having impromptu dance parties…those keep it light too!

Elizabeth: Who are we kidding here? Every book I’ve read has included a tiny human in my lap. I listen to nothing but (‘hey, Alexa! Play Disney songs radio’) and Hot Hot Hot by The Merrymen. Oh and I know every supporting character’s name from every Disney movie and their birthdate.

Luke: First of all, you really yadda yadda’d listening to Hot Hot Hot, so I want to make sure that gets another nod. Hazel is obsessed with a pre-bath, steel drum dance party. Every. Night.

Ok, ready? I’ve also been listening to a bunch of podcasts (wow, really?!) and have two evergreen shows to recommend. RadioLab, my all time favorite, just started a new kid-friendly feed called RadioLab for Kids (I just relistened to the space one, if you can believe it!) that is awesome. For something a little less educational, The Rewatchables is a podcast about sometimes great movies that never get old. As for something to watch, if you haven’t seen Free Solo or Apollo 11, stop reading and watch them both. If you have, check out those nuts on Tiger King or skip to the last season of The Good Place (especially the finale) or play me in Fifa 15 on PS3 because apparently it’s 2016. Sorry this was so short.

Bridget: All of Tiger King. I also watched several how-to videos on YouTube to help me with remote teaching. Reading The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien, hopefully, to balance out binge-watching Tiger King.

How about your favorite quarantine meme/gif?





Michael: Have you seen that bear (it’s beaver, Mike) screaming? Hard to beat in my mind. (Sound on)

Julie: I just saw the most hilarious Instagram post from Kimberly Paisley (Brad Paisley’s wife).  It’s a must-see!

Luke: This counts right? When that wheel went over his head I lost my mind…

There are only so many versions of mac n cheese out there. What other stuff have you been making in the kitchen?

Liz: I’m letting Grace do the cooking.

Mat: Veggie burgers w/ avocado

Elizabeth: Once again, these times in the kitchen are not leisurely, they include a little human and a whole lot of mess! Hazel and I have made mostly desserts: bunny cakes, cookies, blueberry pancakes, and some purple and green play-doh!

Michael: It’s grilling season (thankfully!) so give me like four cheddar brats and I’m happy.

Claire: We have been cooking/baking a lot! Applesauce cake, soups, poke cakes, muffins, various versions of chicken and rice…My specialty is pie, apple with a crumble top and a homemade crust. I can’t share the crust recipe though…it is top secret!

Julie: Southern West Virginia Wild Ramps, Spicey Sausage, and Kielbasa over Scrambled Eggs. Yep. AMAZING! Lemon Chicken Pasta with Spinach. Stuffed Pepper Soup. Loaded Baked Potatoes with Black Beans and Pulled Pork. Beet Green and Spinach Omelets. Sha Nay Nay’s Pizza (Monday night tray night! Ask Ella Landini about it…) Am I the only one that has already gained 4 pounds? (And don’t forget the Kids in the Kitchen YouTube playlist!)

Luke: Say it with me now, ‘Helllooooooooo, Fresh.’ They’re not easy but they’re…fun? Cheap? Quick? They do taste good, though.

So I toyed with asking what’s next? here, but I’m not sure any of us are up for a public prognostication right now. We’re all taking it a day at a time. So I’ll just end with this simple question and you respond however you want: What’s Possible?”

Mat: With technology, a lot is possible that many didn’t even realize is possible. I like the idea of interconnectivity and mass-involvement with students/teachers/families. I also think coming up with in-house online resources for the future, in general, would be awesome. Who knows what will happen in the future.

Elizabeth: I learned a virtual hug was possible. (Thank you, Benjamin Van Dyke!) After that hug and some good virtual laughs too, it’s very possible we will have a different level of appreciation for sharing our lives with these beautiful children. To sit in the same place, to hear a laugh in real-time and to hold them in our arms again will really be something. Can’t wait!

Michael: Anything. This faculty is a true blessing to be a part of and when all minds are locked in on the same target, watch out.

Luke: I’ve found it possible, and ok, and frustrating, to live in a constant state of contradiction, with responsibility acting as both primary motivator and cause for insecurity. (did I just describe parenting??) That there are needs provided from a variety of sources and if you dive too deep into any one thing, you’re bound to find your head in the clouds or down the rabbit hole. And that balance, however elusive, is attainable, at least occasionally.

Claire: What’s Possible? What isn’t possible out of all of this?! The biggest thing for me is that something like this has helped me realize that family time is everything.

Julie: What isn’t possible? We are finding the extraordinary in the new. Together. That makes it “Possible Here”

Liz: Anything!

So, there we are. Was it a waste of time? Maybe. Was it an excuse for me to find dumb pictures and hide inside jokes in hyperlinks? You could say that. But was it fun? It sure was for me!

Before I go, I’d like to speak for everyone at WCDS and thank you all for your continued support throughout this whole thing. It’s certainly a year we won’t soon forget, and I know I’ll remember the way we pulled together to keep the learning alive and, even more importantly, our connections strong. It’s imporant to lean on those you love in these moments and boy, do we all have plenty of places to lean. Here’s to us, near and far, and here’s to life on the other side.


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