by Steve Dunn
There are almost no words adequate to express what I am about to share. About 3:00 pm local time on May 20th, a massive tornado that reached E4 status struck the Oklahoma City suburb of Moore OK. It actually reached E5 status when it ripped through the Plaza Towers Elementary School nearing the end of its school day. Seven children, ages 8 and 9, died at that school as the dark column of destruction moved across Moore for a horrendous 41 minutes. A second elementary school was struck but all of the children survived. In all 24 persons lost their lives in this community of 57,000 people.
Principal Amy Simpson walked the halls trying to get the children ready for the tornado’s arrival with the intercom finally announcing, “It’s here.” And it was. What came next was pure heroism. “The teachers covered themselves in debris while they were covering their babies. And I believe that is why so many of us survived that day, because the teachers were able to act quickly, stay calm and take literally the weight of a wall onto their bodies to save those that were under them,” said Simpson.http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=50147397n
Then there’s the story of Jennifer Doan, a third grade teacher. Later stories emerged of day care workers who stood by their charges as the storm struck–and who like those teachers, shielded their children from debris and calmed their fearful hearts until frantic parents could be reunited with them.
This a great tragedy but once again we are reminded of people of character and commitment–this time teachers and daycare works, in the one case often much-maligned as they are blamed for the inadequacy of our youth and others, grossly underpaid for taking care of the nation’s most precious treasure–it’s children. I must echo the sentiment of a long time friend of mine, Kay Royer Cocklin, who posted this on Facebook: Asking you to say a special prayer for all teachers today. Teachers haven’t gotten very good press over the last few years. But, in the words of one of the Oklahoma teachers that survived the Moore tornado, “Your child, is my child.” That was always my feeling as a teacher, and it was also the feeling of 99% of those I have taught with throughout my 35 years in the classroom. Thank your child’s teacher. They deserve it!!!” This story deserves more, and I will be writing further.