On September 11, 2001, I entered and walked down the hall of the school where I taught first and second grade. Someone had moved the library’s TV into the front hall and I saw an instant replay of an airplane crashing into one of the Twin Towers in New York City. It was the first I knew about the tragedy.
It was 8 a.m. and students would be arriving at 8:15.
I was in tears.
I don’t remember getting back to my classroom, but I do know I was unable to keep the tears from running down my face as the children arrived. They asked why I was crying and I said, “Because I am sad.”
Not long after school began there was a message broadcast into the classrooms telling us to bring our students to the gym for a school meeting. I called the office and said my class would not be attending the meeting. I ran up and down the primary hall encouraging the teachers of the young children to do the same. The meeting was canceled.
As I sat down and called the children to the carpet with their notebooks, I began my daily math lesson, still in tears.
My classroom had a big opening into the next door classroom which the teacher and I took advantage of to share lessons and projects. Her class was in P.E. and she came into my class and sat beside me. She was teary as well.
We sat and chatted in code and held each other up, not giving away the horrific catastrophe that humans can perpetrate on other humans.
The children were quiet. They knew something momentous had happened. They did their work and we got through he morning.
During lunch, I wrote a letter to the parents of my class, sharing care and concern for them and suggesting that their young children would be better off not knowing what had happened.
Through the rest of the week, children would say something quietly to me, letting me know they knew what had happened. I would simply hug them.
We made it through.
A year later at a staff meeting, as September 11 approached, a teacher from another grade suggested we commemorate the tragedy with our classes. I listened quietly and when she was finished outlining what each class level would do for the commemoration. I simply said, my class would not be participating. The entire primary wing of the school followed suit.
She looked to the principal to issue an ultimatum.
He looked at me with eyes that said, “Gee, thanks Dianne!” … And glaring, he said, “Participation will be voluntary.”
To this day, I am thankful that our young students did not have to live the horror of September 11 a second time.