5 Jun
2017
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To Teachers Who Stand in the Gap

siblings walking into elementary school

Saturday night my social media feed exploded with news of an armed standoff and car chase on the Interstate highway through our town. The road was closed by request of law enforcement. All on- and off-ramps were blocked by armed law enforcement with lights blazing on their vehicles — and our son was on a school bus traveling that highway attempting to make it home from a long day in another state.

It was after midnight when our teen called to say the two buses he and his classmates were traveling in were stopped in a town 45 minutes from home. That child downplays almost everything and gives only the details he feels are essential to any situation. He’s not about adding drama, even on a Saturday night when your bus has been stopped because of an armed standoff. He simply said, like it happens everyday and it was on the itinerary, “Our bus is stopped because of something about a gunman. We’ll be late.” They were never in danger, just inconvenienced, but his conversation carried all the excitement of an unscheduled bathroom stop when my social media feed was telling me a different story.

My thoughts Saturday went to the teachers on those buses. That day’s field trip began before 6 a.m. and was going to be a long day from the get-go when extremely poor choices from some individuals had ripple effects, making the day even longer. I’m grateful for the adults that spend their days for nine months with my children. I wasn’t worried about our son because of the adults on that bus.

There have been a few crazy stories in our nine years in public schools that had teachers standing in the gap where we couldn’t. There was a road rage incident involving a gun at drop-off on the last day of middle school. There was a gas leak and evacuation. A violent student who repeatedly caused havoc. Bus breakdowns on field trips. Slurry bombers flying near the school fighting a nearby, raging forest fire. Extreme weather, including a tornado and blizzard. Life seems mundane until it isn’t.

We’re one day away from the beginning of summer. Saturday’s drama is a reminder to not take the job of a teacher for granted. Their days are never the same and hold moments and people they are not specifically trained to encounter. I appreciate the hours spent with the students and those used to plan for the students. I’m grateful for the notes, texts, social media updates and email reminders. I’m thankful for patience with parents as well as students. I’m indebted for the number of bandages, snacks, Kleenex and paper clips my children have required. High-five to those teachers who sprinted through another year with my crew. You don’t go unnoticed.

 

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