Last night as I walked back to the school to try and fix a vinyl cutter with some trusty youtube tutorials I heard the sound of sirens. Ambulance, Fire, Police. I can never tell the difference and living beside a highway you tend to just notice it and move on. I noticed it and moved on. Julie called me a few minutes later audibly upset to inform me there had been an accident, students from my school, my community. Students that I visited with in the halls, work out with at the gym and cheered on at their football, basketball and volleyball games had been in a car accident and it was very serious. The details slowly came in and then I remembered. This community, the one I live in and have grown to love, has dealt with tragedy before. Seven years ago our community lost 4 students in a car accident and a week later my dad and his football team and their community lost 4 students in another tragic event.
I did not work in my community at the time of the first tragedy. I did not witness how teachers and community members came together to strengthen each other. I saw the struggles through my dad and his community but hearing the news last night that some of our student body where being airlifted to hospitals other transported through ambulance I ask myself the questions, “How do we teach tomorrow?” “How can I be there for my students to support them?” “How can we focus on anything but this terrible accident and the lives being affected?” “How can I help?”
Community it seems is the answer to all the questions I was asking. A leadership team at the school and a Principal, that unfortunately has been through this before, that were there to support their staff, a staff that was there to support each other and students and families that displayed resilience. The school was full today, at first of students comforting each other and then of students laughing as they focused more today on relationships and joyful learning than the tests and other activities that might have been originally planned. At one point I had to check the commotion in the hall and discovered kids balancing sticks on their hands in some apparent contest with bubbles. I don’t know what the learning objective might have been but I do know what they were learning.
Community is how we get through tough times. It is the rival sports teams showing up wearing your colours to stand together or taking a moment of silence to respect those who could not be there. It is the muffins in the staffroom and high fives that continue in the hallways because it is what is always done.
I am not an overly emotional person in public. I remain guarded. My students supported me today as much as I supported them. We had moments that were tough and we continue to pray and hope for those students from our wonderful community as they heal. That is what a community does. We support each other, we hold each other up when we need to and we sit together in those quiet moments too. I am incredibly grateful for the community I live in. I am incredibly grateful for the students I serve and I pray for the recovery of my students that are in need of those prayers tonight. If you feel as though you could add to those prayers it would be much appreciated.
After all, we are all part of this community.