Monday, November 5, 2012


"A tree is pulled from the ground.
It's raining.  I am in my house."
Over one million New York City Public School students returned to school today after a week off, courtesy of Hurricane Sandy.

Sandy uprooted more than trees.  Some families were forced to evacuate their homes and sought refuge with friends on the Upper West Side, Westchester or Connecticut.

Many who were able to stay in their apartments were without electricity, heat or water.  Food was in limited supply.

It was a scary event.  I imagine this was magnified for children who feel even more powerless in these circumstances than the worried adults around them.

Today we welcomed the children back to our cold school--we had electricity, but no heat--and talked with them about their experiences with Hurricane Sandy.

What did they do?

How did they feel?

In a group discussion with our incredible school counselor, Melanie, the children shared how they coped with the strong winds, rain and destruction.  One girl described how she crawled to the end of her bed, under the covers, as the storm raged.  A little boy told of jumping into bed with his parents where it was safe.

They do not look happy with all
the spoiled food.
Another child talked about having to throw away all the food in the refrigerator because it had gone bad.

A little boy earnestly stated, "The Chuck E. Cheese was closed and I was crying!"  (It seemed so silly to me that in the midst of everything that was happening this was what he was upset about, but it reminded me to see things from his perspective.)

The children drew pictures and wrote about what they experienced and the images they saw on television.

I am always impressed with how children talk and how they process things.

Today our class became an even stronger community supporting each other in times of struggle.

I am proud of those kids!


Steve Reed said...

Considering how scary that storm seemed even for adults, I can't imagine what it was like for kids!

Owen Tales said...

Great blog. It's wonderful to see grown-ups in schools worrying about the whole child, not just those damn bubble sheets. You are so lucky to have a social worker working with your class. I'm so tired of being surprised by hearing about "counselors" as a mandated IEP service.

I saw an interview last night on tv with a superintendent bragging about releasing "his counselor" from mandated services for one full morning. I googled the district: 4500 kids, 6 schools. He was very proud they had one full time counselor for all his schools, who incidentally used to be the gym teacher but the superintendent "just knew" this person would be a great counselor. The reporter asked if the "counselor" had any "counseling" training. The genius superintendent aptly replied, "Well no. I mean, seriously, it's really just meeting the mandates, talking about suspensions. This person really is good at listening to kids. Isn't that what counseling is all about?" Moronic.

Bravo Gary! Brava Melanie!

Owen Tales said...

Too bad this child isn't in a school like yours where people care about here and create an environment where all kids are valued. I just read this article and thought how much she would benefit from a fabulous teacher and social worker team.

Hilary said...

Such traumatic times for everyone. The kids carry it differently. I'm glad they have you and others like you who understand and help them through it all.

Gary said...

Steve - I know. When it was raging outside my window I wanted to crawl down to the bottom of my bed too.

Owen Tales - Thank you so much. I love working at a school that cherishes the whole child and takes steps to ensure that each boy and girl is safe, cared for and supported. I don't think I would last very long at a school that put more value on bubble sheets than on the well being of the children.

Also, thanks for sharing the link. This girl is pretty articulate, "It hurts my heart and feelings..." The country is changing. I hope it continues to grow more accepting of difference. We'll see tonight won't we.

Hilary - I really do love being in a position to provide for children. I always thought that when I grew up I would be the one to listen to children and really see them. And to be able to do that with other caring adults is something I treasure a great deal.

Pauline said...

We adults often forget that children don't have our processing skills. Allowing them to talk about frightening things with an understanding adult is such a help for both the child and the adult. (See how the little Chuckie Cheese fellow's view helped you change your perspective a bit :)

Gary said...

Pauline - It's so true. I am so happy to have the opportunity to really talk with the children to gain their perspective. Many times I could have never imagined what is going through their minds.

Barbara said...

What a great way to let the children spill out their experiences during a horrific storm. This is something they will remember for a long, long time. I hope life is getting back to normal for most of those affected by the storm.

I have missed reading about you and your class. I'm hoping to come around more often!

la bellina mammina said...

Sad times.... I hope you and all the kids there are okay.

Gary said...

Barbara - Always a pleasure! I have been a bit AWOL of late due to the fact that I am focusing on other forms of writing and trying to meet deadlines. My head has been in a different space. I hope to use this weekend to check back in on blogs and do a bit of pleasurable writing. Hope to see you a bit more.

Bellina - Things seem to be back to normal. The other day the children did ask to talk about it again but they amazed me. The focus of the talk they wanted to have was on being thankful. They ran the whole conversation themselves and I just listened. They are an amazing group of children. I am a lucky guy!


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