My second year of teaching, a senior died in a jet-ski accident.
There were suicides.
There was a swimming accident.
There was a drunk driving accident–that one claimed two lives.
I’ve been in those horrible before school emergency staff meetings. The ones where it is horribly quiet and no one is making eye contact with each other.
Grief counselors on site for those who need someone to talk with or to cry with.
I am not down-playing those tragedies. They were awful and they rocked our schools.
But today was a category all it’s own.
This morning I stood in front of my first hour and had to deliver the news that one of the teachers had died suddenly the night before.
Because it is only my second year teaching in the school, and she and I teach different grades, I’ve only chatted with her a couple times, but I knew she was a student-favorite. I knew she was extremely close with much of the staff.
I stood in front of the class thinking I could read the script clearly, but I started to tremble. I knew the words after I said, “I am so sorry to have to inform you…” were going to absolute wreck my students.
And they did.
It was a short paragraph, but the sobs and sniffling started immediately.
They are just children, and someone they loved has been taken from them. Stolen.
Immediately I wanted to shelter my students. I wanted to not read the words. I wanted them to be protected from the pain for just a bit longer.
But I couldn’t. I had to break their hearts.
Those hearts were not alone, though. Immediately we brought kids to the ears and shoulders and arms they needed. Teachers postponed plans. We listened. We shared, but mostly we listened.
Between classes, the halls were quiet for the first few hours. Students found friends and fell into each other’s arms.
Administrators from all the other buildings stopped in.
Past staff were in the halls for faculty and students.
Teachers experienced grief hand-in-hand and side-by-side with their students.
At the end of the day, we were “debriefed”.
Exhausted, tear-stained faces gathered. Those who knew her best shared –and I was once again overcome with the wonderful person she was and how I wished I had gotten to know her better.
We were encouraged to take care of ourselves this weekend because today, we took care of our students first.
It’s what Abbey would have done.
Please pray for the students and staff of Wyoming Public Schools and for the family and friends of Abbey Czarniecki.