Last week’s tragedy in Boston reminds us once again how life can be snatched away in a flash, a blink, an act of violence or the slip of a foot.
When a strong tornado ripped through downtown Nashville, it crossed the Cumberland River, and then cut a path through our school. The roof of a gym was ripped off, while the few teachers left in the building hunkered down in the half basement of one wing. No one was injured; we were just glad to be alive.
Just a few years ago Nashville’s “100 year” flood destroyed homes, businesses, and lives were lost. The image of a portable school building carried away by rushing flood waters repeatedly played on local and national television news.
I wonder how many teachers gave thanks that their classroom remained dry and intact. Until disaster comes home, we push away “what if”. But we need to face the “what ifs” to prepare for the worst. Emergency plans in schools are carefully posted in every classroom — safe exit routes. Fire, tornado, and evacuation drills are scheduled and practiced.
But what if your classroom was flooded? burned? torn apart by wind? Or what if the traumatic memories in your building were so devastating that you could not return to your building, as in Newtown.
Until it happens to you, disasters are events we watch on TV or maybe pitch in to help others in recovery. To most teachers, our “stuff” is important. We spend years collecting, saving, purchasing (with our own money) books, materials, even furniture.
Maybe starting fresh sounds appealing to you, but even if it does, replenishing can be daunting. With smartphones and little cameras, it would not take long to snap pictures of your classroom library.
This article, “What I Wish I’d Known Before My School Burned Down” may help you take steps now to avoid the unthinkable. I imagine that elementary teachers have more materials in their classrooms than middle and high school teachers, so read through the recommendations found in the link and take a fresh look at your classroom. Just thinking about irreplaceable items may help you find a safer place for them.
When compared to the loss of a family member, neighbor, or friend, a teacher’s loss of classroom books and materials does not seem so tragic, but remember the care that was taken at the elementary school in Newtown? Everything in the classrooms was carefully packed up, loaded onto moving trucks, and then reassembled in a new location. Any elementary teacher knows how critical those first days back at school would be to children and adults.
Would you have regrets if you had to replace everything you use in your classroom? Don’t be caught saying, “If only I had taken a picture of . . . ”
- Boston is able to return to “normal”
- students can return to classrooms
- teachers, counselors, and support staff who give students time to reflect and process shared tragedies
- stories we continue to hear of extraordinary heroism, courage, unselfish acts after the terrorists’ attack in Boston