Among the items displayed in the classroom is a collection of newspapers related to the bombing.
Some highlight the damage directly resulting from the explosion at 9:02, that Wednesday morning. Some display the well-known photo of a firefighter, Chris Fields holding one-year-old Bailee Almon, perhaps the most well-known of the casualties - a shot made all the more heart-wrenching by the fact that my wife held Miss Bailee just a couple of days before the bomb.
Other papers outline the arrest, trial, and execution of the main perpetrator, Timothy McVeigh. It is our understanding that McVeigh, on the eve of his execution, boasted that the score would now be 168 to 1, referring to the number of people he had killed with his bomb.
The Hope Trunk
Together, teachers, parents, and students worked through memorials, constant television coverage, fatality reports, and challenges of unprecedented proportion – all stemming from the terrorist bombing in Oklahoma City, and all under the watchful eyes of the media and the world.
Wrapping up my fifth year as a teacher in Oklahoma City, I was in the middle of a communication arts lesson with my second graders when we heard the guttural boom. When the rafters of our old schoolhouse rattled and groaned, students and teachers searched for answers. From our building, we saw the black plume of smoke from the truck bomb detonated just four and a half miles away. As the lead teacher with no principal in the building, I locked down our school and consoled teachers and parents. In the coming weeks, I became a better teacher and more compassionate person. That experience enriched my professional and personal life in unique ways.
Suddenly, I could point to an event that sent me down a new path as an educator.
Suddenly, I could appreciate my responsibility and influence in the lives of the people around me.
That summer, my wife and I moved to Joplin, Missouri, where she worked as a chemical engineer, and I became a teacher of fourth grade students. The years since our move have been the most rewarding of my professional life. I pursued and earned my Master’s degree and won a number of awards, but more importantly, with the newfound realization of my responsibility and influence, my teaching changed. Students react differently to me now. I am able to teach standard lessons in creative, captivating ways, with amazing results. I can do so with confidence, exuberance, and respect of peers, administrators, students, and parents.