On September 11, 2001, I was teaching on an army base in the south. At 10:00 a parent came into my classroom and said, "I think you need to go to the library." She watched my class as I walked into a dark office in the school media room. I was shocked at what I saw on the tiny televison screen. Replays of planes hitting the World Trade Center, the South Tower collapsing, talk of lost planes, and the uncertainty of what was coming next.
My fourth graders were sent home early, as many parents were preparing to deploy. I was seven months pregnant and wondering if I would be alone in the delivery room, without my soldier. I remember that day like it was yesterday and the feelings still make me shiver.
I couldn't make it to school the next day. Security was so tight on the base that I waited in line at the gate for 4 hours before turning around and heading home. School was cancelled and I worried about my students.
Finally, on September 13, I was back in my classroom. The kids were eager to talk about the recent events and what it meant for us, the military families. I thought it would be appropriate to let the kids write and draw about what was on their minds. One student was concerned about her relatives in another state. Others wrote about their morning or plans for the weekend. Of course, most wrote about the bombings and the video clips they had seen on the news over and over and over again. I took all of the pages and made a book for myself. It was as therapeutic for me to read through the thoughtful responses, as it was for my students to share their feelings with me...
I still have the book and I read it every year on September 11. My students are now high school graduates and living all over the world. I think about them as I do all of my former students, but the brave class of 2001-2002 will always hold a special place in my heart.