I have always intentionally tried to keep my job as a teacher out of my blog posts. I firmly believe there should be a separation between my work and my home within my posts. I’d rather not tell stories of unnamed students–I teach in a small enough school, people would figure it out pretty quickly who I was talking about.
BUT, I have had this overwhelming feeling to share what my students did on Friday to help members of their community. Before I tell you their story, I have to give you the background information:
Last Saturday–April 14th–Kansas experienced an outbreak of storms. We were expecting them, too. The National Weather Service had issued a severe weather threat for areas including our part of Kansas days before. I anxiously waited for Saturday as I watched the news and kept tabs on my family living in Oklahoma who started seeing the weather a day before us.
I wasn’t surprised when the weathermen at the Wichita television stations broke into programming very early that Saturday afternoon and began a marathon coverage of severe weather. In fact, the National Weather Service now says that Kansas was hit by more than a month’s worth of tornadoes on that day alone.
Adam was planting corn all day trying to get as many acres covered as possible. And then that afternoon the storms starting popping up around the area. A line of storms passed through the county to the west of us–which is where my school is. A tornado had been spotted 5 miles west of the town where I teach. Then the news showed live video from a storm spotter of a funnel five miles west of a town where many of my students live.
Time and time again the spotters and the weathermen would say things like, “This is a large wedge funnel…luckily it is out in the middle of nowhere so there will be minimal damage.”
While I’d have to agree we were very lucky that the storms didn’t go through more towns, I have to question the “middle of nowhere” comments. There was damage in these “middle of nowhere” places and people live here, too.
As the evening went on (and while one of the dogs and I hunkered down in the basement while watching storm coverage) they began showing the damage from the storms.
When I got to school on Monday morning, students stopped by my room to show me pictures of the funnels that they had captured on their cell phones. A couple students checked in with me to get their assignments and to let me know they’d be missing class because they were helping clean-up. I had a feeling that the students who came to school felt like they should be out helping as well–and I sincerely believe it had nothing to do with wanting to miss class, or postpone state assessments, or skip practice. I really, truly believe these students had a sincere feeling of urgency to help others.
Fast forward to that Friday…
The entire student body at my school–which is abut 160 students– participated in a community service project for the ENTIRE school day.
Sixth through twelfth grade students showed up wearing their work clothes and sturdy shoes. Some brought their own work gloves, and rakes, and coveralls.
The younger students stayed in town to complete projects, and the older students (8th grade-12th grade) went out to help six area families who had been affected by the storms.
Walking wheat fields wasn’t the only thing students did. They also helped clear fields that still need to be planted.
While the students were clearing debris from the fields and pastures they had to also keep their eyes open for other things–things of value.
Because aside from barns, outbuildings, and grain bins that were damaged and destroyed during the storms…
I can’t tell you how proud I am of my students. These kids felt the need to help, they went out and worked hard to make a difference for people of their community, and they put their all into it. And while I’m not at all surprised by it, their work ethic, compassion, and dedication still simply amazed me.
So many lessons to learn at school–whether in a classroom or out in the middle of nowhere.