This particular update, however, is not about the summer; it is about spring - the time of year that we know, all too well, brings the threat of severe weather.
A couple of days ago, upon getting home after school, I heard for the first time, about the tornado in Moore, Oklahoma, triggering the need for schools to take emergency shelter and enact their emergency plans. School buses were not running their routes until safety could be assured. My brother, living near the affected area, had to take leave of his job to collect his two children from their respective schools. The church where I met my wife was among the first to set up alternative shelter and relief for victims.
Once I found that my family was in the clear, I started watching the news. The heartbreaking word of teachers sheltering their students in a school restroom hit home with us. The heart-wrenching account of children trapped in a school and predicted dead is difficult to hear. After experiencing our own EF-5 twister, exactly two years ago, we watched with extreme clarity as cadaver dogs padded through the debris.
As teachers, we think about a variety of scenarios that would spark our emergency responses. I believe it is in the nature of most teachers to shield students as much as possible. I believe most would step between students and danger. Thankfully, we did not have to test that belief in 2011, but we have often found ourselves doing the same, as much as possible, emotionally. In 1995, it was my decision that put our Oklahoma City school building into lockout in the minutes/hours following the terrorist bombing. In 2001, I assisted in unofficially advising my co-workers of how to deal with student reactions. And in the 2011/2, just as in the weeks following the '95 bombing, we addressed the effects of the Joplin tornado. It is impossible to put myself in the path of the emotional whirlwind that succeeds disaster, but I have attempted to help my pupils work through their own emotional responses to tragedy.
With the news of the devastation and loss of life in Moore, Oklahoma, are you or someone in your family experiencing "flashbacks"? During this second anniversary of the Joplin tornado, are you still dealing with overwhelming emotions? Please contact me. There are agencies I can help you contact, and I would be honored to personally accompany you to them for introductions.