It's emotionally challenging.
And the list could go on...
Our week at AMS has been hard, unusual, and one we hope to not relive. We buried one of our students: a 6th grader. Just a baby.
Tuesday our principals and counselors worked with the entire 6th grade class on making banners and a memorial for this precious child. Then the entire AMS community spent time that morning outside releasing balloons in his memory. Being an 8th grade teacher and separated from the younger students, I never had a direct connection to the student. I will say, however, that it was eye-opening for me to see our small school come together during that moment.
Children. Many of them have never experienced a death to a family member or friend. We had to be there and coach them through that trial. Watching them as they watched the balloon release, my heart was heavy. But seeing the family of this child walk up at that moment, my heart could barely handle the weight.
How do you help a child through that? How can this world throw that cruelty in your face?
We deal with attitudes, missing assignments, homework, grading, absentees, tardies, skippers, lesson plans, headlice, school supplies, projects. We were taught this. We've learned this. But having gone through an education program no one ever said I would have to deal with the loss of a student and help other kids through that.
When I got my first job no principal sat me down with a handbook that titled "What to do if a student passes away." There's not a manual for that.
Getting attendees signed up for Saturday school is a process, but I can do it. Having my grades online every week by a certain deadline is time consuming, but it's by no means difficult. Sitting in the bleachers through sporting events to cheer on my kiddos is not in my contract, but it's part of my teaching. Helping children through the loss of their friend. Yeah, I was never taught that.
So it's easy to say I learned a lot this week. You learn when you're down I think. When we're on the mountain top, not much learning takes place. When we're kicked and beaten and thrown to the valley, we learn incredible amounts.
“Hear my prayer, LORD, listen to my cry for help; do not be deaf to my weeping. I dwell with you as a foreigner, a stranger, as all my ancestors were." --Psalm 39:12
I saw teachers, parents, students all crying for help. We can't do this alone. We can't say the right thing or give hope or instill inspiration. That's not a Miss Kuykendall thing. That's a God thing. While this tragedy seems so inconceivable, it somehow has the ability to have God's fingerprints all over it...for a purpose I can barely seem to conceive.
While I was never given a crisis tutorial in my training, I was blessed to have been raised in a home of Christian parents. I learned that the most reliable source when dealing with any tragedy is God. Somehow, someway try to find Him. Look to Him. Shout for Him. Run for Him. Have Him as your best friend. Ultimately, that will lead to praising Him. Because if I've never learned anything, I've learned this: I may never understand God's plan, but through Him I will always find rest in it.
"I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the Lord." --Psalm 40:1-3
I don't know right now really what the process will hold for so many of our students and co-workers. It seems impossible. But then again, I've been through impossible before. And God always heard me.
He always heard me.
He lifted me out of the slimy pit.
He lifted me out of the mud and mire.
He set my feet on a rock.
He gave me a firm place to stand.
He put a song in my mouth.
He led me to a hymn of praise to our God.
I pray we learn to see. And fear. And put our trust in the Lord.