A couple of years ago, I noticed teachers and schools coming out with these cool t-shirts with different variations of “I’m a Teacher!! What’s your Superpower”. I love these shirts because they exemplify how amazing teachers are and that we are the equivalent of Superheroes. We can make amazing things happen with all of our skills. No other profession can say the same, even though others try. We have the strength of Superman when it comes to raising test scores. We have the the ability to change into anything like Green Lantern and we do it without a magical ring. We have the flexibility of Mr. Fantastic because we can change instructional practices, methods, and direction when necessary.
As super as we are in this profession, just like Superman, we from time to time have to deal with Kryptonite. Last month south Louisiana experienced what people are now calling the “Great Flood of 2016". Great is probably an understatement of dramatic proportions because to be here is to know how unbelievable it has been. Ask anyone from Louisiana and they can probably list at least 10 families they know personally that lost their homes in the Great Flood. If you can believe it there are still homes and building either submerged or surrounded by water as I type. This water has been in their homes since the second week of August. I know people who lost their homes in the aftermath of Katrina in New Orleans, purchased homes in the greater Baton Rouge area and lost their homes in the Great Flood of 2016. This flooding impacted over nine parishes and trust me you didn’t have to live close to a body of water to be impacted by flooding. I was among the fortunate few that’s home did not flood, but heart still aches for my friends and family members who lost everything to the water. This flood did not discriminate when it came to damage. I know school district superintendents, principals, teachers, paraprofessionals, school food service workers, custodians, and bus drivers who lost everything including vehicles.
The outpouring of support from people outside and within the state has been amazing. During the initial flooding residents with boats didn’t wait, they began rescuing neighbors or going to areas they found out were beginning to flood to get people out. Unlike Katrina, the loss of life was minimized by the fact that everyone helped each other quickly. Honestly, the flood is not what this blog is about. This blog is really about the rebuilding process.
In this profession, not only have we taken on the role of Superman, but we sometimes forget that we are Clark Kent and that no mater what role we are playing Kryptonite can impact us. Schools have begun to open back up and employees are coming back to work to support the children we care about so much. Some are still living in shelters or displaced from their homes almost a month later. We often find ourselves focusing on the children as we should, but we must make sure that we are healing as well.
The reality is that we are only human and our Kryptonite may come in the form of a flood, tornado, hurricane, loss of a close friend, a child, or a divorce. As strong as we are, don’t be afraid to ask for help or to pursue help. Your employer has an Employee Assistance Program(EAP) that is designed to focus on the employees, it is designed to focus on you and your family. EAP in our district provides employees with three free private sessions with a professional counselor. Services include training on stress management, coping with loss, flood advice, and the list goes on and on. You don’t have to get permission from your district’s HR or share with your supervisor that you are seeking these services. You have probably seen flyers in your school building. Employee Assistance Programs are designed for you to use when you need it and I encourage you to utilize these services. If your district does not have an Employee Assistance Program, you need to advocate for them to invest in this resource. Kryptonite impacts us all at some point in our lives and how we deal with and recover from it can impact how we effectively interact, educate, and support our students.
Supervisor of Personnel Management - High Schools
East Baton Rouge Parish School System
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
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