Heading to school on Monday morning, I saw the warnings. I figured I had time to get to school before the storm hit, and I’d be safe at school. I was right. The storm didn’t hit until 8:45, a few moments after I had gotten students settled in for post-testing.
The rain came down so hard and fast that Jacob said, “It sounds like the ocean.” I told him he should write that down for a future poem. As soon as he opened his journal, the lights went black. And I mean black! No lights, inside or outside. The classes next to mine started filing out into the hallway directed by calm teachers holding their cell phones in flashlight mode.
While we sat in the hall and answered concerned questions, I noticed a colleague sit on the floor next to her student. She put her hand on her shoulder and talked to her quietly. This child was scared and crying. This teacher was calm and comforting.
My classroom phone rang. I answered it. A man made a joke and I told him he had the wrong number. (Later, I found out this was the secretary’s husband.) The calls kept coming. I eventually figured out that somehow my phone was the only working phone in the school and all incoming calls were coming to me. I began answering with kindness, taking on the soothing tone of our dear secretary. I was comforting panicked parents.
The storm passed quickly. We were left with no power. Teachers began making up games in the hallway. I continued to answer the phone. The security office called. I told them our power was out, but we were all safe. The superintendent’s office called. I explained the situation. Eventually the decision was made to dismiss school since a tree had knocked out power that wouldn’t be restored for hours.
The calls continued. “Yes, we are dismissing.”
“Your child is safe.”
“Be sure someone is home to meet the bus.”
“We are in emergency mode. Please call back tomorrow.”
This was not an extreme emergency, but it tested our system. It tested our teachers. It tested me. We all remained calm and placed the safety and comfort of our students first. I am confident we are prepared for any stormy weather.