From the Darkest Hour Shines the Brightest Light

June 1, 2020

There are two ways to perceive a challenge: to see it as a nuisance or to use it as an opportunity, and like many challenges, coronavirus took time to morph into the latter—to become an opportunity to learn, grow, and prove our adaptability in uncomfortable situations. Moreover, many of these challenges are new and issues we’ve never faced before: how do we host a career fair remotely? how do we host 300-student classes in the fall? how can seniors contribute to society while quarantined? The list goes on. When you think deeper though, what this virus has done is given us some of the most complex, messy problems of our time, yet in parallel, it has equally pushed us to become amazing problem-solvers. It’s helped us to think creatively, entrepreneurially, craftily, and plain out out-of-the-box. At TEL HI, one really interesting problem we’re solving is: how do we teach and apply social distancing measures to a group of young preschoolers, when parts of the country are struggling to even do the same? Well, our Infant, Toddler, and Preschool (ITPS) staff are managing to figure that out.

Preschool head teacher, Tom Sullivan

Infant head teacher, Juana Francis Puerto

Our ITPS program provides emergency childcare. However, a challenge the program faces is enforcing guidelines that require a very conscious effort to a group of preschoolers who understandably, aren’t developed enough to be that self-aware. Preschool head teacher, Tom Sullivan, has a very strict set of protocols to approach this—almost like the “T.S.A. before boarding” as he puts it. For example, when kids often sneeze without covering their faces, Tom enforces a process of walking them over to the restroom and teaching the kids the steps to properly wash their hands to develop good hygiene. Additionally, ITPS also doesn’t allow anyone to walk inside the classroom unless they’re wearing shoe covers, and these are only two of many protocols in place. Juana Francis Puerto, TEL HI’s infant head teacher, admits their protocols are very strict, yet necessary like those of an ICU.

Facility manager, Lucero Gamboa

Furthermore, ITPS has been creative in deciding what to clean and how thoroughly to clean it—culminating in several protocols beyond our standard list. Facility manager, Lucero Gamboa, thought of every scenario in which kids would come in contact with an object, which resulted in decisions like getting rid of certain toys that are difficult to clean cleaning the underside of desks and chairs, which are surprisingly high contact areas in preschool classrooms. In connection to Tom and Juana’s work, she almost finds it humorous how serious the preschool takes these precautions, yet nevertheless, sees the value in them.

Tom Sullivan prepares to lead his class outside to the play area, while virtual instruction for toddlers goes on

So, ITPS and the rest of TEL HI are exercising their creativity and outside-the-box mentality more than ever, which has pushed us to be better problem-solvers. In retrospect, however, we are only one example of the many organizations and people across the globe that are developing in this way and the value that this pandemic brings us is so priceless. In essence, we are becoming better and stronger people because of it, so instead of seeing this virus as a nuisance, it may be finally time to start perceiving it as a profound opportunity for growth.


Stay TELHISTRONG everyone.

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