Karen B

September 11, 2001. I had dropped off my 6 month old son with a beloved family friend, and headed into a day of teaching 6th grade in Greenwich Ct for my 5th year. Skies were bright blue, the weather wasn’t going to be too hot, and I was looking forward to a day of teaching my almost-there-knowing-you students.
End of first period – there’s a knock on the door from Sue, one of our assistant principals. She takes me out in the hall to tell me a plane crashed into one of the World Trade Center towers, and do I want her to tell my kids. I say yes, just because I am not honestly sure what is going on here. She walks in, makes the announcement, and leaves. The kids are silent and stunned, asking me “what did she mean?” after she left. I didn’t know, and I said so. I had a break not long after, where I had a short call with my husband who said bluntly “We are under attack.” I gave out my home phone number to students that day, telling them to call me if they needed someone to help them, and especially if no one came home to them.
One of my students, a younger brother to a past student, was angry that no one seemed to be fessing up to what was happening. I motioned him into my room and told him ‘you are okay with this – it is scary. But we have students who are going home to empty houses, whose parents might get home and might never come home. We have to be kind to THEM.’ He was floored.
I drove home that day on I-95, normally packed with cars, and there was almost no one on the road. There were no planes flying. My home is under the landing pattern for Westchester County airport and the planes for LaGuardia and Kennedy cross over — and there were none. It was incredibly eerie.
I did not know where my brother-in-law was for hours, and we did not know where his best friend, a NYC fireman with a downtown company, was for three days. Big Joe survived and is now a deputy chief, but he is the one I pray for every year on that day.
My students that day… I was convinced we would have dead parents. We live 40 minutes from New York City, and a lot of our parents have bigtime jobs in the financial sector. Two weeks after 9/11, there was a meeting about one of my students, so I had to go. His mother told the group in the room that his father had not felt well and decided to sleep in — so he was on a later train and that train rolled into Grand Central when the first plane hit his office. I was beyond stunned.
I love my students like they are my own. I have gone from being a 6th grade English and Social Studies teacher to a media specialist for my school, and all that really means is I have 850 students instead of 125.

1 Comment

  1. Your insight: “But we have students who are going home to empty houses, whose parents might get home and might never come home. We have to be kind to THEM.” brings me to tears. I’m so glad they had you with them that day.

    Thank you for sharing your memories. I had no idea what it meant at the time either – even all day long. NYC was (and still is) out of my knowledge range, and I simply couldn’t conceive of the danger of the situation.

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