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Principal Sanchez and Mrs. LeBlancAfter a successful re-orientation day that provided hope and optimism for a return to fully in-person instruction, the rug was, metaphorically, pulled out from under the feet of Morton Elementary School scholars and staff.

An unforeseen break in the sewer line that services the school required an emergency closure of the building and a transition to remote learning.

Although disappointed in the turn of events, Principal Susan Sanchez lauded the response of her team of educators and staff, who rose to the sudden challenge by ensuring the Morton scholars had the essential technology and materials to learn from home while the line was repaired.

“When we had to get all the Chromebooks ready to go, my staff was just amazing at doing that,” Principal Sanchez said. “And then we had disbursement that Wednesday and started virtual learning Thursday.

“Obviously, we were very disappointed, but we knew we had to do whatever it took to keep the kids learning.”

Monday, the first official day of in-person instruction at Morton, was a cause for celebration for educator and scholar alike.

“Being gone basically two weeks, it was really like starting all over,” Principal Sanchez said. “First-day expectations, how things work, where things go. The kids were very excited, and so were the parents. And my staff was ecstatic, because they know kids learn best with us.”

As has been the case throughout the District, Morton scholars are excited to be back in the classroom and eager to learn. 

“Our kids have amazing skills and abilities, and my staff is incredible at meeting their needs and making learning fun for them,” Principal Sanchez added.

Tony, a fourth-grader under first-year educator Kim LeBlanc, said that while he misses “staying with my Mom,” he is at home back in the classroom.

“I’m not that good with the online thing, so I was kind of disappointed when we had to go back home,” Tony said. “I was excited to come back Monday and be able to play with my friends. I didn’t make any friends during the re-orientation, but I did on Monday. Tony sets at his desk with his computer open, ready to learn.

“And my teacher is really fun. She reads books to us and when she does, she reads with expression. That makes me want to read.”

That teacher, Kim LeBlanc, said she was as surprised as anyone when being told the building was being closed and learning would be virtual, at least for a time.

“I was like, ‘OK! A crazy first year of teaching: bring it on,’” Mrs. LeBlanc said. “Monday was a very exciting day, because I got to see the kids in person and interact with them. But I have to say, my kids were fabulous online, too. They helped each other in ways that I never would have imagined, and it made it very easy for me.

“And now that they’re back together, they are so happy. And I was so happy to see their smiling faces. These kids are so excited to be here and to be able to have interactions with each other and make new friends. And they are being very kind to each other.”

A fact that brings a smile to Principal Sanchez, who has promoted a kindness-related theme for the new school year.

The year her son graduated from high school, Mrs. LeBlanc returned to college to fulfill her dream of becoming an educator.

“I’ve always wanted to be a teacher,” she said. “I graduated in July and started teaching in August. And I just love it. I’m so excited.”