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This month's letter to readers

May 16, 2021 at 4:00 a.m.

Imagine walking out of your place of work one day not knowing that it will be months before you can return to your desk. Not only that, but when you do return to your workplace, everything will have changed -- no handshaking, no close contact with co-workers, no office potlucks and masks, masks, masks.

Now imagine being the one in charge of making all that work, without any prior knowledge or training for such an event.

A lot of workers and managers have had that experience over the past year, but possibly no workplace has been hit harder than our classrooms.

When school districts looked for leadership in a pandemic, the responsibility fell squarely on the shoulders of the superintendents across the state to ensure children received a proper education, even while it was being done remotely. Some districts were fortunate to already have experience with virtual learning. Others, not so much.

It is a testament to the hard work and determination of our local school officials that they made it work, and kept our children safe once they had to return to physical learning last fall.

HER this month talks to three of the county's seven superintendents, all strong-willed women who relied on their training and their guts to tough it out through the pandemic to make sure their staffs and their students were safe and equipped to learn.

Stephanie Nehus, superintendent of Hot Springs schools, Nancy Anderson, superintendent of Cutter Morning Star, and Melissa Speers, superintendent of the Jessieville School District, each sat down with different members of the HER staff to talk about navigating through the choppy waters of the pandemic, and how their training and experience prepared them for the task.

HER also this month features the return, in photographs, of a time-honored tradition for the Arkansas Derby: fabulous hats. Photographer Tanner Newton made the rounds at Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort, and got great shots of the elegant and eye-catching attire.

In our regular features, Dr. Jamie Koonce tackles the old question of "What's the best diet for diabetes prevention and reversal?" with the latest science.

And Dr. Jessica Rhodes rounds us out this month with a discussion on the importance of telling health care providers your pet's "history" when seeking treatment for your beloved furry family member.

That's it for this month! Stay safe, and enjoy the beginning of summer weather!

-- The HER staff

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