COLUMN: Obert highlights work of education workers

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Managing Editor

If there was ever a school year to win an award such as Principal of the Year, it’s the 2020-2021 school year.

That’s exactly what Chelsea Middle School Principal Caroline Obert got the pleasure of experiencing when she was named the AAMS Middle School Principal of the Year on Monday, Jan. 25.

Receiving the honor in a normal year would be enough, but to win that honor for leading her school through the trials and tribulations that have come about the previous 10 months due to COVID-19 makes it all the more special.

Obert has excelled in helping her staff and the students at Chelsea Middle School get through the most trying of times they have ever experienced in the classroom.

Her example is just one of many in the education system this year from administrators to school boards to teachers to students that have made sacrifices to make the school year as normal as possible.

Married to a second grade teachers myself and hearing the stories she tells me of the hard work her coworkers are putting in and the wonderful job her administrators are doing to put the safety of everyone in the school at the forefront, while also educating the students, is truly special.

Often times, it feels like we don’t give our educators enough credit for what they do during a normal year, but with the added layer of COVID-19 into their daily lives, they are in overdrive.

Board members on each local board of education have set guidelines for safe learning, administrators at each school are implementing the different measures and thinking of ideas to make school as normal and fun as possible during a difficult time, and teachers have worked tirelessly to keep a watchful eye on the students while trying to teach lesson plans and catch students up from an abrupt end to last year.

Each day brings its own set of challenges, and I’ve heard about many of them, but for each challenge, there is also a solution and someone going the extra mile.

Obert exemplified that on multiple occasions, even helping her school recently with a tragic loss. When Julie Year, a teacher at Chelsea Middle School, died after teaching in the Shelby County School system for 31 years, she was not only one of those heartbroken, but had to step up to help others cope.

But as she had done all year, she was there for her school and helped them through a difficult time.

She and many others in the education system this year have been forward thinkers, and it has made all the difference for who matters most—the students.

Creating a safe and comfortable environment for teachers in turn provides a sense of protection and enjoyment for students in the classroom.

For that, we thank Obert and all educators for the countless time spent making this school year a possibility.