She’s been there since the doors opened in 1997.

Merri Willis, a math teacher at Destin Middle School, is working her way through the change to online schooling and social distancing just like all educators in Florida.

After spring break in March it was announced students wouldn’t be back in the classroom until April 15 due to the coronavirus, and now that date has been dropped as well. School will be conducted online for the remainder of the academic year.

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“There have been some hick-ups. I have had to stretch my computer skills and learn on my own,” Willis said.

Willis is one of 13 teachers that came from Bruner Middle School in 1997 to work at Destin Middle.

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“I was on the transition committee at Bruner in January before the doors opened in fall of 1997,” Willis said. “And I’ve been in my same classroom all these years. Love it.”

However, she like all teachers have had to leave that classroom behind in recent weeks.

The Log did a Q&A with Willis to get a little insight as to how she’s been dealing with online teaching as well as social distancing.

So how has the social distancing affected you personally?

I hate to say it but it has been a huge blessing for me. My son, Anders, from Colorado whom I don’t see very often has been here for over four weeks and return date is yet to be determined. Ronnie, Jr. and Brantley have been here some also. Anders and Ronnie Sr. have cooked amazing, gourmet meals and family time with games and boating together has been amazing.

What do you miss most about being at Destin Middle every day?

I miss my students terribly and our faculty. Great bonds and friendships have been born. We all are family!

How has the transition to an online classroom gone?

There have been some hick-ups. I have had to stretch my computer skills and learn on my own. The students are doing well; I am proud of them.

Out of all the closures from the beaches to churches and everything in between, what do you find yourself missing the most?

My Bible studies, my friends, and our granddaughters

What’s the first thing you want to do when the “social distancing” is over?

Walk on the beach and thank God for the beautiful place in which we live

Have you watched or binged anything good?

No, lots of family time filled with cooking, games, and fun (little TV).

Anything else you’ve been doing to stay busy?

I am walking at least 4 miles a day, working in my yard, planting flowers, and boating with my family.

With all the “at home” time right now, which is your favorite meal of the day - breakfast, lunch or dinner ... and what would be on your plate?

Dinner – Easter – appetizers: Deviled eggs, date and goat cheese crostini, fried green tomatoes. Soup: Pea and mint soup. Salad: Mixed greens with avocado and pecans. Entrée: Roasted lamb rack, Zatar carrots, celery root puree, creamed brussels. Dessert: Lemon curt tart. Chefs: Big R and Anders (gourmet cooks)

What’s your go-to snack?

Iced c.offee

What kind of advice have you offered your students for dealing with the pandemic?

We are all in this together. This is a difficult situation, but you are the best! We can do this! I’m thankful for each of you and please contact me if you need anything. I am here for you!