Gayle Townsend-Lang, of Rutland, works full time wearing many hats for the Rutland City Public Schools as “Miss Gayle.” Here she talks about how she has been affected by the pandemic.
How am I handling self-isolation?The first few weeks I did OK. I was so busy setting up my office at home, trying to problem solve, attending four to nine Zoom meetings a day, phone calls, emails, distributing Chromebooks, helping students, staff and families — it kept me busy. Then, when I had downtime, hearing the news and I wasn’t able to go out, see my family, touch the mail, go to church, it was hard. When I suddenly found myself having intense conversations with our cat, Mr. Binx it hit me: Self-isolation wasn’t my cup of tea.
What has been the biggest challenge for you?Being an extrovert, it’s hard for me. I miss seeing my family and grandchildren. I love seeing all the students and staff at RIS and RMS. I miss the hugs, smiles, laughter and conversation. But as an asthmatic (and let’s just say, I’m no spring chicken) I’m high risk. I know the seriousness of this pandemic. It’s important to follow the guidelines to keep those we love safe and healthy, as well as my own. This is a small community. We all know each other and care for one another. There is nothing I wouldn’t do to keep those I care about safe. So if I have to stay in isolation and let my roots grow in, wear leggings, wear a mask and hoard toilet paper, then that’s what I need to do. This too shall pass.
What has been the most pleasant surprise?For me, I realized how nice it was to “slow down” and enjoy all this extra free time with Tom (Donahue). Before, we were always on the run. I have heard so many say they are eating dinner together or spending more time together as a family. I love this! And thanks to Tom being the shopper, we never run out of TP or ice cream.
How much of what you’re doing do you think will you carry forward after the pandemic?I will carry forward a few things. I will no longer introduce myself with a traditional handshake. I will also be very aware of what I’m touching, like my face, door handles, railings, etc., at school, grocery stores and elsewhere. And, I will continue to “slow down” and enjoy the wonderful things I have been blessed with in my life.
What do you feel the lessons will be that come out of all of this?I know for me and for many I’ve talked to at Rutland City Public Schools is how much we respect, appreciate and miss our staff, students and family. The things we took for granted, we no longer do. I believe life as we’ve known it will never look the same. But we can adapt, we can make things better. We already have. Change can be good. Change can be positive. We have a great loving community here. I’m thankful for that.