This past week, our community experienced a very scary tragedy. A gas line exploded just outside the boundaries of our campus. It was close enough that every building on campus felt the force of the blast and the building where it took place was completely leveled to the ground resulting in one casualty, several injuries and a number of buildings exhibiting exterior damage at best and being condemned entirely due to major structural damage at worst. This event has forever changed the face of the streets surrounding our school.
While this is clearly a tragic event in terms of the losses for the community, one thing that worries me as a teacher is how it will affect both students and staff at our school specifically, especially those in the building closest to the explosion. Our school was closed for several days, mainly due to our inability to access the campus. However, I am sure everyone appreciated the time to process what had just occurred as well. Our school system used the time to offer counseling to anyone who felt the need to talk with professionals about the loss as well. Many of our students and staff frequented Kaffeinate regularly and came to feel welcomed by the shop's owner and staff. So this will be a particularly difficult time for them.
Now that the area is being cleared and safety around it is restored, we are returning to school tomorrow on a delay. So this is when we start asking those big questions such as:
These are hard questions to answer. While most teachers have adjusted to helping students through any number of hardships in life, this kind of tragedy is not something teachers are trained for providing assistance to our school community. I don't know what will happen next, but I do know this tragic event has had an effect on all of us at DSA and will continue to do so for quite some time. One thing that I am grateful for is that nobody associated with our school was hurt in the blast and despite the close proximity, none of our buildings were damaged. For me, this is a good starting point for helping everyone I come into contact with at school cope with the events of this past week.
I am a high school Career & Technical Education (CTE) teacher located in Durham, NC with a focus on game art and design. This blog provides a place for reflection on relevant classroom practices.
The views and opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not represent those of my employer or anyone else associated with Durham Public Schools.