Thursday, September 1, 2011

Excitement today

     You could say elementary school is exciting...when you're five.  Everything is new, everything sounds really cool.  If you have a great teacher making you think everything you're about to do is exciting, then it will be. really was a little exciting, even for the teachers.

It all started at about 1:20.

The intercom beeped it's five tones, that are an 'F' by the way.  Yeah, I'm a music major..I just had to know. Anyway,  when the intercom beeps, everybody stops to listen.  Usually, it's this person or that person come to the office because they can't find them.  These are adults that might not have a specific place to be at that time, not children.  I didn't want you to think we were losing kids all day every day. 

So the crisis team gets called to the office.
They don't usually call the crisis team anywhere, unless we're having a drill, which we usually know about, or have an idea that it's going to happen in a specific week.

Clue #1 something was amiss.
Then over the next five minutes, the intercom came on at least 5 more times, calling teachers or teachers aides to the office, which is NOT normal.  Clue #2.
     By now, my younger more inexperienced partner teacher looks at me, her eyes a little wider than normal and says, "Ok, I'm starting to freak out a little".  She hasn't learned that a teacher with a room full of elementary kids, no matter if they're Kindergarten or 5th graders, NEVER admits that she's scared because then it will scare them.  You've got to stay cool in a crisis. You can cry later after the kids are taken care of.

The intercom comes on again about 3 more times before our assistant principal.  By now our nerves are beginning to be a little edgy because it's so out of the ordinary and very annoying all at the same time.  She announces we won't be having our last class of the day.
By this point, I can't really teach because I keep getting interrupted.  My partner teacher decides to find out what's going on because now we know it's something big if they're interrupting the schedule.  Our other assistant principal comes on and says, "Teachers, please read your email in the next five minutes-EVERYONE." with a little tremor in her voice. I'm starting to worry about what's going on.  The school calls partner teacher's cell phone, which they haven't done in forever because we have an intercom that works now, so the class is silent and we're waiting to see what she says.  I figure out later, she calls the cellphone so the kids won't hear what's up over the intercom.
She writes down on a note what's up and then runs out of the portable.  A school is coming to our school for dismissal. I am with about 50 5th graders all looking at me for some enlightenment. (we see two classes at a time) Some of them looked a little more than worried, but nobody cried, which is unusual even for 5th graders.  They still get scared too.  They're still kids...they're just taller.  So I decide to just level with them.  If there had been a threat to their safety, I wouldn't have told them, but it really didn't concern our safety.

I told them for some reason that we don't know and at the time we didn't, it wasn't safe for the other kids to be at their school so they're bringing the kids to our school.  Then I warned them that their teachers might be a little edgy during all of this and their best bet was to listen and do everything we said. 

I still had about 10 minutes left before class was officially over, so we played a few rhythms on their instruments so we could say we got something accomplished.  Then I told them about when the road was being widened in front of our school years ago and the work crew hit a gas main.  I remember it sounding like a jet engine.  It was loud and dangerous and it stunk.

We had to evacuate our school and go to another school.  That's been over ten years ago now. 
Turns out, the other school today had a gas leak and had to be evacuated to our school.  *major flashbacks by now*
So all of our 950 kids plus the other school's 650 kids had to be dismissed out of the same building with not a whole lot of notice.  Luckily, we have three places we dismiss normally, so we were just down by one.  There were kids crying because things were different.  There were kids crying because they were afraid they wouldn't get home.  There were a few that had gotten mixed up with other groups, but they were little and it was caught and fixed quickly.  The other school's kids were in our gym and all of our kids were in the hallways and the lobby and the cafeteria.  For not having much notice, we got everybody on the right buses, in the right cars and daycare vans and all out of the building by 3:00.  That was a pretty big deal.  That's a lot of bodies to move, but we worked together and we did it.

I love my school.  The people there are top notch.  I never want to work at another school.  It's a truly amazing place and I'm proud of the job we did today.

To most people, this wouldn't be too exciting, but to us, it was a pretty big deal.


  1. I was a student at Nolensville Elementary in the early 80's. I can't remember the exact year, but it was the one of the "big flood" when I sat in my desk and watched water start creeping in from under the exterior door. One of my friends lived in the neighborhood behind the school. Her Dad came to get her and took me as well. I remember sitting on his shoulders as he carried me through waist deep water across the playground. But what I do NOT remember was ever being scared. As I read about your excitement yesterday, I wonder what my poor teachers were going through to keep us all calm!

  2. Oh wow. I'm glad no one's hurt and no one panicked. You teachers are brave for handling such a situation with over a thousand kids to look after. That's not an easy task.

  3. Wow. I'm so glad everything was ok I remember when I worked at my MS and we had to learn how to get through a lockdown. It was scary and intimidating, but so good just to know the protocol. When somehting like that happens, the kiddos need teachers who know what to do so they can keep their cool.