Bender searches to balance personal needs with those of students during quarantine


Courtesy of Chelsea Bender

Chemistry teacher Chelsea Bender stands with her two kids next to an old tractor. Bender has a third child due at the beginning of June.

Sam Woiteshek, Co-Editor-In-Chief

For chemistry teacher Chelsea Bender, April 30 is an important day. It’s when Governor Whitmer’s “Stay Safe, Stay Home” order ends. It’s when she hopes she can return to the grocery store comfortably.

It also marks the beginning of a crucial period before her baby is due. 

“The doctor has stressed that my last four weeks of pregnancy are critical for me to stay away from others,” Bender said. “I will be social distancing; I plan on prepping the baby’s room, decorating the house and enjoying time as a family of four.”

To this extent, Bender has created a family-oriented routine for the quartet. Whereas she would normally be teaching, the time off has allowed her to spend more time with those she loves.

“Each morning we eat breakfast as a family,” Bender said. “After my husband and I get some work done, we play the rest of the morning or we do ‘preschool’ which involves coloring or painting. Then we go outside. We’ve been taking a lot of hikes from our backyard. As a family, we just finished collecting sap for maple syrup and now we are gardening and mushroom hunting.”

Despite the quality time with family, Bender still misses the faces that greet her for eight hours of her day: her students. 

“When I see my students online, I am reminded how hard it is for all of them,” Bender said. “For me, having a young family keeps me busy. But for students, they have lost a lot more of their everyday normalcy. I am disappointed for them and worry about how things are at home for some.”

Bender prefers face-to-face interaction over technology and is unable to perform her signature labs, which include making ice cream. Nevertheless, she is trying her best to make things convenient online.

“My lesson plans have changed immensely,” Bender said. “I have had to use more College Board videos for my AP kids. For regular chemistry, my hope is just to introduce basic skills and concepts so that if or when students take college chemistry they will be prepared.

Ultimately, like everyone else, time in quarantine has allowed Bender to reflect on the year.

“I FaceTimed a few of my teacher friends,” Bender said. “We mourned, we laughed and tried to find the silver lining. I wish I just knew where the end is.”