The classroom is an enchanting niche. It is indeed a workplace but the tools are: wonder, questions, giggles and glue. Young minds processing curriculum--juggling it all with innocence, imperfect behavior, unlimited potential, and incredible wit.
But Tuesday, September 11th, 2001, I unraveled the work of terrorists to my fifth grade students. In the midst of calamity, I cradled the hope of the world. They looked right at me for answers, restored trust, to make it go away. I could find no wise words in the Teacher's Edition. State standards were never designed to address heartbreak and this issue of accountability was baffling to my kids. Who would do this? Who is to blame? Will the masterminds be caught? My students waited for my clarification, instructions, and answers for the this awful, awful test.
As humanity huddled together we connected ourselves by television, computers, cell phones. My innocent lambs were witnessing slaughter. What I said could make or break their delicate spirits even more. I needed help. This was scary stuff.
So there I stood, defining terrorism, confused thinking, the shape and purpose of the Pentagon, the function and structure of the World Trade Center. But I was not alone. The Almighty, who fails me never, whispered in my ear. I heard words coming from my mouth that became bandages to young souls. My voice was stacking up words of calm, healing and reason. I expounded to my pupils, "They can take our lives but they cannot take our hope."
An assignment was given to my charges that I know some kids scribbled on their hearts: use your brilliance to prevent these acts. Love and forgive. Seek justice. I know that children can see grand colors in broken crayons, so I empowered them to bring a new balance to this skewed world.
How I wanted to lift each student onto my lap and rock him or her as my own, dispelling their fears, and restoring their trust. But my job was to be an interpreter--a guide through the rubble, a finger pointing towards tomorrow. How blessed I am that God is at my side in the classroom (which is my mission field). I was an instrument of peace that September day, even though inside I felt broken, confused, and afraid.
I end with the thought that came to me as my class was humming along with the song, 'America the Beautiful'. Terrorists may interrupt the song, but they can never silence the singing. My lambs know the melody of hope. I invite the entire world to sing along with them: they know all the words.