Opinion
Education Opinion

Lesson from the Heart

By Hanne Denney — September 03, 2005 3 min read

I am so touched by the response from so many other new teachers. I have heard from people around the country about their fears and their triumphs as teachers. Thank you; please continue to let me know how it’s going. I like making new friends.

I will tell you more about myself and my educational situation soon, but I have just to make a quick post to share a lesson from yesterday.

I was using email emoticons to introduce a lesson. If you don’t recognize the word, emoticons are the funny smiley faces you can add to your email messages to express emotions. I was helping 9th grade special education English students understand that icons are representations of something else. I had each child pick three emoticons to express how they were feeling during the first days of high school. Then they shared – bored, happy, excited, anxious, sleepy (who wasn’t, at 7:17 in the morning!), aggressive, shy. I also shared what I am feeling. I am satisfied, because I like my classes, my schedule, my job, my marriage, my life. I am excited, because so much good stuff is happening. And I am grieving.

I am grieving. Because while I think about the good things happening for myself, my family, and my students – I am also thinking about Louisiana, and Mississippi, and now the rest of the United States as we try to deal with the devastation of the Hurricane (I can’t even say her name). I know a good teacher shares, and so I told the students about my grief, and how I cry as I see the TV news stories or read a paper. I cry as I read and re-read the email from my niece, a New Orleans refugee now in Texas. My students understood. We live in Chesapeake Bay Country, and two years ago our county was hit by Hurricane Isabelle. There are still people in our area trying to rebuild homes. And Isabelle was not anything compared to what just happened. My students can’t really understand how desperate people are who have lost all they own, and now fear for their lives. But they could understand that there were tears in my eyes, and grief in my heart, for those suffering. And when one of the school clubs came around with a bucket to gather change for the relief effort, my students reached in their pockets and found some.

My niece, Michelle, has lost everything she owns. She and her brother Nick live in New Orleans. Michelle can’t go home to see if anything is left, but she’s watched the news and isn’t fooling herself. She left her car, to drive out her brother’s car. He was out of the country when the storm hit, and hasn’t yet returned. He has nothing to return to – except a car, which his sister saved for him. Michelle left her clothing, her mementos, and her tangible life. She doesn’t have a place to live, she doesn’t have a car, and she doesn’t have a paycheck coming. But because she had a Mom who welcomed her home, she isn’t asking for anything for herself. She has the intangibles she needs – knowing her family is well, youth and the ability to earn a living, and the safe haven a victim needs to recuperate.

Michelle is asking her family and anyone she can reach through the internet, to donate to relief organizations. She wrote to everyone in her address book, “There are many poor areas in New Orleans that are flooded up to the rooftops of 2-3 story buildings. These people need your help. I appreciate all of the love and support that has been offered to us New Orleanians during this time. We loved that city so much and we are all so sad to see it this way. I encourage anyone who possibly can to make a donation to The Red Cross.”

I’m passing on her message. Thank you. Talk to you soon.

The opinions expressed in Ready or Not are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.