By Dr. Shanessa Fenner
Never in a million years would I have ever imagined having to live my life during a pandemic, but I have done so for the last two years.
It has been challenging and life-changing. Wearing a mask has become a part of my daily routine because I am going to do whatever I have to do in order to protect myself and those who are around me.
I have had many conversations with God over the last two years. I find myself praying on my drive to work in the morning and asking him for strength and to be my guide. In my role as a principal, it has been a lot of work ensuring that everyone is wearing their mask, staying six feet apart, and washing their hands for at least 20 seconds. I am the “mask police.” I stand in the foyer of my school for morning duty to make sure everyone has on their mask and it covers their nose and mouth at all times. I also stress on the morning announcements the importance of wearing a mask at all times to prevent those aerosols from escaping or getting in. I tell them that when they see me, they only see my ebony eyes, and not my nose and mouth, and that is what I am expecting to see when I look at them.
I worry about my staff and the babies at my school. I watch their body language, tone, and have conversations with them about their feelings. I am very supportive of them and their needs. They know that I care about them, their health, and their mental well-being. They sometimes call me in the evenings and I just sit and listen to them talk. I know it is hard, but I stress that we are a family that will stick together and weather this long-standing nightmare.
They say nothing lasts forever but I am starting to second guess that statement. I find relief and peace when I am in the comfort of my home. I have no interest in attending superspreader events that put people’s lives at risk. Before the pandemic, I was not the kind of person who attended a lot of events anyway, so that has not been a problem for me. I must admit that I am an introvert so the social aspect of things does not bother me one bit. I only go to the store if it is necessary and I do my shopping online. I have not been inside of a restaurant or inside of a movie theater in over 2 years. I know the risks and I refuse to take them.
During these challenging times, I also find peace with taking naps, writing, and having phone conversations with family and friends. I have had the support of other principals during the pandemic and they have been amazing. We are human, have emotions, and have really been tested during this unprecedented time. In times like this you find out who you are and what you are made of.
I am cautiously optimistic about the future. It seems that every day there is a new variant of the Coronavirus. I will continue to work hard, keep myself protected, and walk by faith and not by sight. Hopefully, this will one day be in the past and only a memory. It is so sad how many people have lost their lives to COVID-19. My heart breaks for their families. All that I know how to do is to move forward, pray, and be the best that I can be. #BlackGirlMagic
Dr. Shanessa Fenner
Dr. Shanessa Fenner is a Principal in the Cumberland County school system. Dr. Fenner has her own local TV show called “Let’s Talk with Dr. Shanessa Fenner.” She has a Bachelor’s degree and two Master’s degrees. Dr. Fenner has been featured in Ebony Magazine as one of the nation’s most eligible bachelorettes. She was voted one of the most influential women in Fayetteville and voted one of the best “Forty Under Forty Award.” https://www.linkedin.com/in/dr-shanessa-fenner-16879b6/