Jennifer Clark

On September 11, 2001, I was in my first semester of student teaching in an incredibly rural school district in Western NY. I had a 45 minute drive everyday to a school surrounded by nothing but farmland for miles. I was responsible for 22 kindergarten students during that time. Now, in 2001, I still didn’t see the need for me to have a cell phone, so according to the children of today, we were still working with the dinosaurs of technology, the tv and radio. We were in the middle of teaching a lesson to our students when someone had overheard on the radio what was going on in NYC. We got spotty information throughout the day as we had to continue teaching as if it were just an ordinary day. Even though this school was a good 7 hours away from NYC, some parents had come to pick up there children early that day.
I couldn’t wait to get back to my apartment where all of my roommates, no doubt, had heard about the news. All 6 of us huddled together on the couch and were glued to the tv screen watching the news reports. I’ll forever have the images of the planes flying into the Twin Towers seared into my brain. We couldn’t get enough information and watched tv all afternoon and into the wee hours of the morning. I was a teacher in training working with 5 year olds who had no clue what had happened and our school decided it was not our place to inform them. They left that up to their parents. I don’t know how I would have explained to those tiny young minds what had happened that day, but it was a turning point for our country. It also made me realize that as a future teacher, those kids in that room were my kids, and I would be responsible for leading them in to some scary events with the responsibility to help them feel safe, secure, and develop an understanding of whatever was thrown our way. I think that’s why as a full time teacher now, I always feel that discussion is an integral part of my practice to show kids that even though there are tough issues in front of them, understanding and grappling with those things will make them stronger, more compassionate individuals as they get older. Thanks for letting me share.

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