Sometimes in the midst of every day teaching - in the midst of each hand being raised and your name being called out, amidst frustration over small minutia - these glimpses of real life take place. These moments have power beyond our measure. They are out of our control and are created by powers and forces stronger than us. It is in those moments that we look at the faces of our small students and are reminded of how we are all connected.
Each day in the early part of this week we waited for the storms to come. Monday our principal came on the loudspeaker after the buses had all left and said the skies were getting dark and we were under a severe thunderstorm warning and should head home. Nothing seemed that bad to me. When I got home, the ground was wet. I must have missed the storm.
Tuesday was 'if'y - a little cloudy, a little windy.
Wednesday morning seemed off. The sky looked weird. It was very windy and by 7 a.m. it was already pretty warm. Since I teach in a trailer I got out of my car wondering how long it would be before they would call us inside. They didn't. The kids went home and I stayed to work. It still didn't look good outside. Around 4 p.m. our principal came on the speaker and said that it was getting dark out and very windy that there had been reports that some tornadoes had touched down in Alabama, heading our way. We were now under a tornado watch. About an hour later, I got home.
We began to move items closer to the house. I knew already that for my family in Birmingham their neighborhood already looked like a war zone. I went to bed that night knowing they were safe - devastated but safe. I went to bed that night, but I slept with the news on the entire night.
It barely even stormed here in Atlanta (though we take tornadoes seriously, since one came in 1998 and my dad lost his office and an entire neighborhood was wiped out). However, parts of North Georgia were hit badly. Tuscaloosa, Alabama (where the University of Alabama is) was hit extremely hard. No one is allowed in right now. Unfortunately, there are still children unaccounted for - college students. No matter the age, these are people's children. I am not the only one who personally knows people who were affected. Stories of loved ones and loved ones lost have spread all over school. Regardless of your faith or beliefs, the fact is we all come together in these moments.
From now on at the end of the day as you say goodbye to your students and hug them, squeeze them a little tighter, high five them with a little more enthusiasm, and know how lucky you all are.