As the California wildfires continue to rage, and so many heartbreaking stories plaster the headlines, I keep hearing stories about educators. I've read so many inspirational stories about selflessness, heroism, and hard work that goes above and beyond the job description of a k-12 educator.
And I'm not surprised.
Whenever tragedy strikes, educators are often found on the front lines of the crisis. Just Google ‘Teacher hurricane,’ and you will find story after story of teachers who rose up through adversity to serve their students and communities after storms.
Each time a school shooting happens, we often hear about the teacher who shielded their students from gunfire, but the news rarely talks about the teacher who was there for their students the day after. And then the day after that, and the day after that.
When the athletic director at Forest Lake Christian found out the volleyball team from Paradise, California- their opponent- had lost most of their equipment and jerseys to the fire, he rounded up the community to help. When the team from Paradise arrived at Forest Lake, they were surprised to find brand new uniforms, shoes, knee pads, and $16,000 waiting for them.
Dear educators in California, thank you for your inspiration.
Over 32,000 students are out of school in Butte County, California. Many of those children are without homes, and also without the consistency and stability that school is for them. Annie Finney, a teacher whose school was destroyed by the fires, is still meeting with her elementary students at a local library.
“It is therapeutic and it’s good for the kids. It gives them a sense of life again,” Finney said.
This isn’t in her contract, and of course there’s other pressing matters Finney has to deal with. But her students are important to her, and so she shows up to the library to give them a space to play, read, and feel normal again.
Dear educators in California, thank you for your dedication.
Bus driver, Kevin McKay, had 22 stranded children on his school bus as he desperately drove them through and away from the fire. Smoke started coming into the bus, and children began to cough and even fall asleep from breathing it in. McKay took off his shirt and tore it into strips, doused them in water, and gave them to students to breathe through until he could get the bus to safety. Meanwhile, elementary teachers, Abbie Davis and Mary Ludwig, kept the children calm throughout the harrowing five hour drive.
Dear educators in California, thank you for your heroism.
There are so many more stories out there of educators serving their students in the midst of this tragedy. Many of these stories won’t get covered or even told. And that’s probably okay with these educators, because their selflessness is a reflection of their dedication to kids- not glory or recognition.
They are educators after all.
While tragedies and crises seem to be occurring way more than normal, the selfless work of educators is still a constant.
And for that I’m grateful.