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Here on Long Island, schools were open today which was an uncertainty until this morning. Yesterday, we dealt with the situation as best we could with the kids, considering how little information we had. We're very close to NYC, and indeed, we do feel that NYC is a part of our area here, especially with so many staff and students having relatives who work there, many in the WTC and many who are police and firefighters who have been called into NYC.Today I scrapped any regular plans and devoted my day to the attack. I teach 8th grade and I felt it was necessary to address the issue. So, I began each class by discussing how the attack was of an historic magnitude the likes which our nation has never seen, and pointed out that this day will be remembered by us all for the rest of our lives. I then suggested that we should document our thoughts and then those who would like to share may do so, which would lead to a class discussion. I told them that this documentation should be something they keep forever, something they might refer to as they tell their own children and grandchildren someday about this day in history.I didn't realize that this impromptu lesson would turn out to be the most powerful in all my years of teaching.First of all, I could barely get my kids to stop writing. I've never seen 8th graders write with such passion. When I asked if anyone would like to share, the hands rose in unison.The writing of my students were filled with such emotion, I was awed by their words. One class, however, truly made me speechless. One of the boys, Julian, asked to read his first. While he could've read from his seat, he chose to stand in the front of the room. Barely into the first paragraph, he started to choke up, and the tears began to flow onto his paper. This started a few other kids to begin crying. Now remember, these are 8th graders, and one would expect some in the class to start teasing, making comments if a boy starts to cry. Not this time.To my amazement, the entire class began to rally around Julian, offering words of support and encouragement. They told him it was fine to cry, that we all felt this way. They told him his writing was wonderful, and that he was expressing the feelings of us all. Julian had a tissue, and as he tossed it in the basket, he said under his breath, "look at me, I'm crying like a little girl." At that, the rest of the class told him that he was more of a man than anyone.I tell ya, folks, it was all I could do from tearing up myself. The way these kids were there for each other, the way they supported each other at this impossible time was nothing short of awe-inspiring to me. I've never before felt such proud of students, of wonderful kids.Today I felt very good to be a teacher.Thanks for letting me share.Tony
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