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Guest Post: A Houston Teacher’s Heart

What do you do when a hurricane slams you in the face after four days of school?Clear Creek ISD June 2017 (1)

This was the best first 4 days of school I’d ever had. Tuesday saw us independent reading with self-selected books for the first 10 minutes of class. A habit we will cherish through June. We were moving in and out of our notebooks by Wednesday. Groups were discussing and reporting their thoughts back to the whole class. A community was rising in all four of my senior English classes. My inclusion para-professional and I had worked through the mountain of paperwork and conferred about this student and that one. I had plans to video a class for a whole week to use for who knows what. Who could believe that senior English students could move so far so fast. Our potential was limitless.

My district sent out a message Thursday evening that school would be cancelled on Friday. Some coaches met up at school that evening to stow away hurdles, high jump mats, and benches. We lamented our missed football scrimmage and wondered when we would resume school.

The hurricane projections said it would hit hundreds of miles away and would only be a category 3. We knew the “dirty side” of a hurricane was not a fun place to live, but a few days of rain and maybe a little wind was all I mentally prepared for.

Friday, I went to school to grab my laptop and a couple of teacher books so I could finish my lesson plans, review the game plan for next week’s game against Pearland, and whatever else needed attention. Having been through hurricanes and heavy rain before, I thought maybe we would go back to school on Tuesday at the latest.

Our football staff has a group text that is mostly silly memes and rude jokes. Now it reads like a timeline of the storm.

As I look back on the text threads, there is a definite change in tone on Friday evening when the rain started. We went from making fun of each other to being seriously concerned for one another. The rain fell Friday night but none of us had water in our houses or were flooded in. I even got out of the house to drive around on Saturday. I went to the grocery store for eggs and drove around a bit to see what was what. We spent the day planning for our week one football game and watched the news as the storm worked its way closer.

Saturday night was when it started getting scary. A flood, a deluge of water fell on our city. My wife and I didn’t sleep. It was one of the scariest most nerve wracking nights of my life. 15 inches of rain fell in 3 hours and we were constantly up and down watching the water levels in the street rise and making sure our flooded pool wasn’t about to merge with our kitchen. The coaches’ group chat filled with pictures of rising water and reports from all over south and west Houston. I’m sure we are all too macho to admit it, but we felt that fear collectively and it was a relief for us to know that we weren’t alone in this storm.

When the sun rose on Sunday, my house was still dry and the electricity was on. Others weren’t so lucky. Neighborhoods within a quarter mile of my house were completely flooded out and many of our students don’t have a home to go back to anymore. I’m sure you saw reports on TV of water rescues happening in League City. Those are our kids. I see those families at parent night and sub varsity football games. We shop at the same grocery store and order pizza from the same place. My twitter feed filled with images from our community of families who were rescued in boats and won’t see their houses for weeks.flood

Despite the destruction we endured this weekend, I can’t help but think toward the future. It will take some time, but the flood waters will abate and the roads will clear. At some point, we will reopen our schools. We will ask the students and teachers to come back and the process of building will resume.

Even those whose houses didn’t flood will bear the scars of this terrifying natural disaster. And those whose houses did flood will be consumed by it.

Where will that process even begin? What will I say to them? What can I reasonably expect them to produce?

I have no idea how to answer most of these questions. All I know is that I’m going to tell them that I love them over and over. My classroom will be a refuge from the aftermath of the storms. We can be safe together. We can write about our pain and share our fears. My Student Council class will work to bring some normalcy back to people’s lives whether through food drives, donations, or lending a hand to those who need it. I’m going to give my linebackers the biggest hugs they’ve ever gotten and I’m going to tell those boys, who think they are men, that I love them.

Harvey’s footprint will always be seen on this school year for these students and teachers.

Maybe we can learn about survival and community and love. I think my classroom is the perfect place for those lessons. I hope I’m up to it.

Charles Moore is the senior English team lead at Clear Springs High School in League City, TX. He enjoys leisure swimming, reading, and coaching linebackers. Follow Charles on Twitter @ctcoach

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17 thoughts on “Guest Post: A Houston Teacher’s Heart

  1. […] and coaching linebackers. Follow Charles on Twitter @ctcoach and read Charles’ other posts here and […]

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  2. […] probably in the dark, without power–but not without hope. And Texas is still recovering from Harvey’s rage. But they’re Texas, so they’re […]

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  3. Erika B. August 31, 2017 at 10:11 am Reply

    Charles,

    I am enamored by your willingness to share – all of it. While the devastation engulfing TX right now is unimaginable, what hit me even harder was your willingness to see beyond the hard exterior and ferocity of the young men you teach and coach. Walls are going to be up, overwhelm is going to be rampant, but you’re ready. You’re ready to take these young men under your wing and get through it – walking, crawling, bawling through it. These young men are going to be shown how men love…what it looks and feels like. And while homes are devastated and possessions are lost, they will FOREVER remember what you’ve done for them…and, in hopes, pass on this strength to others for years and years to come.

    From a Brooklyn educator’s perspective – I thank you. So many of our young men (facing trauma) are not shown the way. You, are creating this path.

    Wishing you, your players, students, and community a safe and efficient recovery.

    Best,
    Erika

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  4. […] Charles Moore and Megan Thompson, both teachers from flood-ravaged Houston, tell their stories of the start of a school year that will alter their lives and the lives of their students forever. The posts are honest, raw, vulnerable, and everything we ask out students to put on the page from day one. They are informative, persuasive, and narrative at its best, because they come from a place of true connection between content and humanity. […]

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  5. Anonymous August 29, 2017 at 7:14 pm Reply

    You are very impressive to be the English Lead and Football Coach. Your writing skills are commendable. I know that is not what is on your mind. I hope that you see your students soon and they are all safe. I am sorry for the struggles of your community.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Leigh Cowart August 29, 2017 at 7:12 pm Reply

    This is an awesome and heartfelt story. Breaks my heart to read it. But the truth is, there are many lessons to be learned..perseverance and attitude I think, amoungst the top. I hope you have the strength to instill in these young minds what is important and they will listen. I am so glad you and your family are safe and you did not lose your possessions for you have tough days and nights ahead this year. Hang tough!

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  7. Greta R. August 29, 2017 at 2:56 pm Reply

    It’s so heartbreaking that so many kids in our community will be starting a new school year having lost everything except the clothes on their backs. Absolutely unimaginable.

    Would like to share a link that may be helpful, from some of my SBISD principal friends – here schools can join this list if their students need help, and other schools from anywhere can sign up to adopt a school to send supplies/clothes etc.

    http://tinyurl.com/schooladopt

    Please share with others! When kids do go back to school, it may be the only refuge they have from the devastation for a long time to come. Praying for you and all of your teachers and students!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Carolyn Kinsey from Land O Lakes, Fl. August 29, 2017 at 2:02 pm Reply

    So well written. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. charlaynedenney August 29, 2017 at 12:40 pm Reply

    My granddaughter is in your class. I know she misses the regularity of her life, school, home. They’re high and dry, a bit of wet weeping through the brick but they’re safe. We’re safe too, an island with electric in the subdivision full of rescues and water.

    Have them write. Write their stories. Share their experiences. Maybe even combine them into a document and make a book that they can keep for their grandkids to know what happened. With self-publishing so easy now, it’s easy to do. I’m self-published, 4 books now. I will help you if you want with the publishing.

    I think the kids would like this and it would give some catharsis. THANK YOU For being a teacher and caring so much about your students. You change lives.

    Liked by 1 person

    • charlaynedenney August 29, 2017 at 12:46 pm Reply

      Correction, my grandson’s in your class (we have 3 grandkids at Springs, it’s hard to remember who has what anymore).

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Margie Kusnerik August 29, 2017 at 11:58 am Reply

    Ike hit my school hard in 2008. It was closed and they split our campus among two others. I mourned the loss of my school more than my own home. Teaching certain things….sitting in meetings and/or PLCs, celebrating school functions would cause a flood of memories bringing tears to my eyes even years later…..stupid tears! Burnet Elementary in Galveston reopened 4 years ago and I quickly put in for a transfer back to my home! A reporter doing an article on the opening asked me what I learned….I gave some stupid bumbling answer but for weeks I thought about it and finally realized that it wasn’t anything I learned but rather the passion I have for what I do! You will rebuild and you will be stronger. Your since if normalcy will be that if a new kind! Your kiddos will need lots of hugs…lots of reassuring but passion will get you all through it and together you all will grow in a way you never knew possible!
    Good luck and don’t forget your friends a little south down the road got your back and we are all to help you all rebuild! Hugs!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Dmitry August 29, 2017 at 11:38 am Reply

    Very well written Coach Moore. You are one of the authority figures who truly care about our kids. Brought tears to my eyes, this article warmed my heart.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Anonymous August 29, 2017 at 11:35 am Reply

    We, and that word expresses it well, we our a nation, we our one, we all bleed the same color,we our in your corner, sometimes it takes something like this horrible situation to bring us,or should I say we to the forefront, I believe in Prayer, and I know our God is a big God and nothing is to big for him, love Texas and her people!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Miriam fodor August 29, 2017 at 10:49 am Reply

    I can not love this enough. Thank you for having a heart for our children.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Cinda Rank August 29, 2017 at 9:50 am Reply

    Charles,
    You are the epitome of what a teacher is!
    You made me cry reading this; people will realize there are good people left in this nation.
    We realize what a wonderful teacher, man,husband, and father you are! Keep up the great work!
    I am proud to know you.
    God bless,
    Cinda Rank

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Anonymous August 29, 2017 at 9:27 am Reply

    Yesterday’s post reminded me that we teach readers not books. This one is an important reminder that we teach human beings. Charles, your authentic love and compassion will be a guiding light for your students. How incredible is it that through this pain and loss and recovery, they will have writing experiences to help them make sense of it and work through it. How incredible is it that they have you. Thank you for sharing your honesty and experience. -Stacey

    Liked by 1 person

  16. needlesandshamrocks August 29, 2017 at 7:55 am Reply

    Charles, I am certain you are up to the task of providing comfort and safety to your dear students. Thank you for writing this! I, too, worry about my Brook students and how I can help them heal from this devastation. I take solace in remembering the process of recovery when we lost the top half of our house from Ike. Patience and hope will be my mantra for months to come. Our students deserve it. Thank you again for this lovely post! -Ann Daley CBHS

    Liked by 1 person

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