Sep 11, 2008


I started teaching seven years ago. Technically I started the last week in August. But this is the day that sticks out in my brain as when I really became a teacher. Of all the things from that day I suppose it's a really silly thought to have.

But, September 11 is the day I realized how much I really care. It is the day I realized how much more there is to teaching than ... well teaching. It's about love and caring and service. I know we all have our own horror stories from that day. None of us will likely forget where we were or what we were doing. But for me, it is the day I realized that I can never not be a teacher. I was so vulnerable that day. There were no scripts. No methods class had ever prepared me for what to do in case of national emergency. Nobody had ever told me what it would be like to have a hundred faces looking to me for comfort in a world that had been turned upside down.

I remember driving into work listening to the radio. Everything felt so surreal. We had just moved out west from DC, so everything felt simultaneously very close and very far. And I walked into the empty school building to see my four colleagues huddled around a radio, listening. Then minutes later we wiped our tears and greeted children. We tried to hide our own fear, to make the students and their parents feel safe.

The whole day was crazy. The school was in the middle of changing buildings. So, there were five of us and less than a hundred students in one building. The rest of the school, including all the administrators, were in the previous building still. We had no communication, and were under the assumption that we were in a complete lock down - we didn't let the students change rooms, walk by windows, anything. And I remember lying. Smiling and lying. And praying it would all be ok, that my lies wouldn't be lies.

I remember holding one student and letting her cry. Her father was a pilot. She was sure that he had been hurt. I told her that his plane had been grounded and he was safe. And I prayed.

Today I walked past the flags at half mast and I couldn't help feeling like it was that day all over again. I felt vulnerable and weak all over again. We're in a new building now, the whole school is together, I have support and administrators, and there were no catastrophes today. But I couldn't help remembering it.

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