[NOTE: This article was originally published on the blog of the Durham Association of Educators. Click HERE to read it and view its associated photographs.]
I’ve been thinking a lot recently about the ways that teachers (everyone who works in a school) support and love each other. When I’ve had the opportunity to talk in rooms full of them, I’ve been using airplane oxygen masks as a metaphor. When the cabin pressure decreases and the masks drop, everyone knows that you’re supposed to get yourself situated first before you help other people. If you can’t breathe, how can you help anyone else? People seem to be getting my point about self-care and the need to scoop each other up, love each other, and get each other back to a place where we can give our kids what they deserve: our best.
The kids, of course, are the center, and any educator worth a salt is a driven by that truth every moment of the day. But the truth that becomes clearer and clearer with every school I visit is that no one can give our kids what they need when they can’t breathe. And the crises that the attacks on public schools are producing just causes so much chaos that it’s hard to catch a clean breath. Our kids are in crisis. Their parents are in crisis. We are in crisis. It’s hard to know where to start.
For the staff at Merrick-Moore Elementary School, the answer is obvious: you start by loving and supporting each other.