Connie Konya

We were in our second week of school in Stamford, CT. I recall thinking it was such a glorious September day as I drove down i95 to work.

The only cable television line was in my library media center. While kids lined up for the start of the day outside in the lobby, the news had trickled in via car radios and a few phone calls. We turned the large screen on. Realizing that the image of the first plane was so bewildering, I turned the tv away from any innocent eyes from the hallway. Teachers and staff began to hear from one another ( we didn’t have smart phones glued to our appendages!) I had many adult visitors throughout the day in the library to see the television reports. I insisted they were discreet and the tv was in a corner away from any student traffic.

Our administrator,who had only been principal for three weeks, quickly assessed our staff to determine if any had any loved one working in the buildings. Only one staff member had a son there and she learned quickly he was safe.

We kept out students inside despite a beautiful day outside. Peter Jennings was reporting possible reports of other planes in the air poised to attack. I wondered if we should be hunkering down in the auditorium.Some parents came and took their children home.

The drive for me back home on I95 was strange. Drivers were changed. Everyone was slowed down and people were exercising politeness that I had never seen in this part of the country. In the coming days, flags were hung on overpasses or live flag wavers would appear. Lines in stores were also calm, somber and you felt liked you just wanted to hug the next person in line or at least pat them on the back.

Back at school, our superintendent did not cancel the September 12 district open house as we thought he might. He adopted the “business as usual” message from President Bush and NYC Mayor Giuliani that Americans would not be made to be afraid. On the night of the open house I had much respect for my new administrator who assured the parents in her message that the number one job she had was to provide their children with a safe school each and every day.

Later, I realized as September 11 unfolded, I didn’t even wonder about my own middle schooler or high schooler and their experiences that day. I just worried for our school. I learned that my son witnessed it on television in the classroom and had a classmate who left upset.That student’s father did perish in Tower 2.

I have since done so much reflecting as a teacher, a parent and a US citizen. I remembered in the early 90’s how I turned on my tv and realized I was able to watch an event (Desert Storm) live, play by play. That moment now seems so very pivotal to how media changed our experience to the news.
And now we have that technology in the palm of our hands!

Thank goodness for those things that let us escape…books, nature, our family, and life’s joys.
I hope we all teach our students to find these comforts.

1 Comment

  1. “Everyone was slowed down and people were exercising politeness that I had never seen in this part of the country…. Lines in stores were also calm, somber and you felt liked you just wanted to hug the next person in line or at least pat them on the back.”

    That captures the public feeling so well for me. Thank you for sharing your memories and the precautions you took to protect your students. – And of how your son’s classmate learned that his father had died. How would we want our children to hear news like this — alone, at school? Caught up in the news and not its implications, it’s easy for me to miss what this means for individual students.

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