Thank you Susan Groff: One act makes a big impact


Esmeralda Coeto Medina (created with Canva)

Our challenges throughout the pandemic have helped us emotionally connect.

April 2020 – It was just one month after school had closed and all the days seemed the same. I would wake up and sit in front of my computer: back hunched, my face resting on the palm of my hand, and listening to voices. Every time there was more homework to be completed and more endless hours of sitting in a dark room staring at a white screen. I began to feel unmotivated, exhausted, and without purpose.

I would only complete my assignments for the sake of getting my work done. I had no passion, motivation, and I wasn’t learning anything. However, there was one class that captured my attention, and it was biology.

Susan Groff has been a biology teacher at Middle College High School for 23 years, and she was my teacher for my freshman year. I enjoyed her class partly because I have always liked science. However, logging into her class was fun; she was always happy and excited to see her students, even through a computer screen. Ms. Groff presented the material in a fun and engaging way. Learning about biology nurtured my brain; needless to say I did my work and learned.

April 14, 2020 – I was at home and my mom’s phone started to ring. She wasn’t around and I didn’t recognize the number. I hesitated but ultimately I answered the call.


“Hi, is this Esmeralda’s parent? This is Ms. Groff, her biology teacher.”

I was taken aback; why was Ms. Groff calling? I had done all of my work, I attended class, and even went to some tutoring sessions. I couldn’t think of a single reason as to why she was calling.

“Oh, hi Ms. Groff, no my mom isn’t home right now. How can I help you?”

Ms. Groff explained that she chose me for student of the month, and I would get a pizza delivered to my house. Hearing that made my day; my effort was being recognized, and I was getting rewarded. I was so happy! However, my mom wasn’t around so she couldn’t confirm when the pizza could be delivered. Instead, I suggested that she call again the next day. After the call ended, I was jumping up and down from the excitement. I could hardly believe it; I got recognized by one of my teachers.

April 15, 2020 3:40 a.m. – I was shaken. With my half opened eyes I could see that my entire room was dark; I was barely able to identify the dark figure standing in front of me as my mom.

With a cracked voice she said, “He passed away.”

One of my relatives had been in Mexico and was sick with Covid. He had been struggling for the last month, but ultimately, he lost the battle.

My mom and I woke up the members of our household. Moments later the entire house was filled with cries and family members embracing each other, crying on each other’s shoulders. However, I process death differently; I go completely numb and I try to act strong. In the meantime, I just stood in a corner lost in my own thoughts, barely being able to believe that this had really happened.

Time seemed to slow down and we stayed together the entire morning, grieving and comforting each other. In the afternoon, my family members were more tranquil and after comforting my mom, I was finally able to have some time to myself.

I didn’t feel the need to act strong for anyone. I could open up and cry. I sat on the floor, letting all my bottled emotions from this morning break loose, all the tears from my eyes roll down my face, and I finally accepted that my relative was gone.

Moments later I turned and heard my mom’s phone ring. I hesitated to stand up and then I finally reached out towards the phone. I looked at the number and simply remembered that Ms. Groff was supposed to call today in the afternoon. Quickly, I tried to collect myself; I wiped the tears off my face, cleared my throat, and answered the call.

“Hello, Ms. Groff,” I said with a weak voice.

“Hi Esmeralda! How are you?” Her tone was filled with excitement.

“I’m good,” I said instinctively to try and match her mood.

However, realization hit me. How can I say that? My relative died, I had just been crying a couple seconds ago, my life felt like it was falling apart and here I was lying to someone I respect and who trusts me; I can’t do this. I had been acting strong long enough and without another thought I began to cry.

“Ms. Groff, I just lost a family member.”

It surprises me how fast everything can change. One day, I was filled with excitement and I felt like I had purpose again; moments later I was torn and left crying on the floor. The fact that I hardly cry in front of my family but let myself be so vulnerable in front of my teacher felt comforting.

In that moment there wasn’t a teacher to student relationship, but one of an adult to child relationship. Ms. Groff comforted me and lent me a helping hand. 

This pandemic has brought the worst and best out of everyone and even though physically we have been the farthest apart we have ever been, emotionally we have been the closest that we have ever been. 

I’m glad that I had Ms. Groff by my side and that she took the time to comfort and care for me. This shows what kind of a teacher and overall person that she is. I know that over the past 23 years she has been at MCHS she has impacted many more lives, but I’m glad that she made an impact on mine.

Thank you Ms. Groff.