Teacher Talk: One Band Director’s Pandemic Thoughts

Feb 9, 2021

The past year has made it abundantly clear how important student travel is.

Students, educators, operators, destinations—everyone misses each other and the experiences that come with these trips.

Finding the balance of keeping people safe while giving students whatever opportunities we can has been a stress point for many. After nearly a year of COVID-19 in America, emotions are beginning to overflow.

This happened recently, when Scott McMeeking of Homer High School found himself expressing his complicated, overlapping emotions to Tracey Schenk of Educational Tours Incorporated.

McMeeking is a teacher and band director at Homer, located in a small town in Michigan. He deeply misses his students, travel and working with Educational Tours, and they both gave us permission to share his words. If you’re feeling the same way, hopefully his words can make you feel less alone—we’re all in this together.

“I doubt that any kind of trip will happen. Philly is out of the question at this point. I’m talking to the Juniors about next year now. We just officially gave up on this year (2021) a few days ago and are turning to next year. Even going to Cedar Point looks unlikely.

I keep holding out hope, and keeping options open, and I’ll keep doing that.

We have cancelled 35 events since this started. I go home from school at 3:00. Kids used to hang out in the band room to practice or just sit around and chat until 5:00 on most days. I eat lunch by myself, instead of with my younger students.

These relationships are priceless, and they are weakening dramatically. I feel like I’m being paid quite well to do my job poorly.

I can’t wait to go on a band trip and have time to really enjoy my students again. I love watching them have a good time. I love the conversations that happen when I stop by their rooms and to tuck them in at night. I love the feeling I get when they are so gracious to waiters and housekeeping. Hearing all those pleases and thank yous makes you feel great about our world.

I miss the sense of wonder that they wear so plainly on their “small-town” faces when they step off the bus. I really miss sending you all emails and writing FB posts because it makes me feel so good that I can’t help telling everyone. I really miss being that incredibly close to a bunch of pretty amazing students. Boy… that just came pouring out of nowhere.”

— Scott McMeeking, Homer High School