Thursday, September 8, 2011
Katie's Story: Where were you on 9/11?
I graduated with my teaching certificate in 2001. That fall, I had taken my first teaching gig as a long-term substitute for a middle school Spanish teacher teaching introductory Spanish classes to grades 6-8.
I was young.
I was full of energy.
I was going to change the world one student at a time.
September 11, 2001 was the second week of school and I was starting to actually feel like I was gaining their respect.
It was also my baby brother’s 16th birthday.
During second period, I was reviewing the Spanish alphabet with the class of 2007 (seventh graders at the time) after teaching them the word cumpleaños (birthday).
We were tossing the Nerf ball around the room reciting the Spanish alphabet when the assistant principal called me to the door.
“There has been a devastating accident. A plane has hit one of the World Trade Center towers. Please do not mention anything to the students or turn on any televisions.”
I’ll be honest. I only had a vague idea of what the World Trade Center was, but I knew enough that a plane hitting a building was devastating.
I went through the rest of second period in a daze.
My next two classes were sixth graders that were unruly, didn’t care about Spanish, and had no idea that my brain was preoccupied with what could possibly going on in the news.
At lunch, my team of teachers—the electives—gathered together in one of the art rooms to watch the news. Obviously by that time both towers were down and they knew it was terrorists.
I had one class of eighth graders after lunch and then it was time to go home.
But first I needed gas in my car.
Like, I legit needed gas…I wasn’t one of those people who drove to the gas station because they were afraid that gas would suddenly be unavailable due to the terrorist issues.
So I waited in line for 30 minutes, ran out of gas, had to get help pushing my car up to the pump, and then filled up.
I immediately drove to my boyfriend’s house since he worked third shift and had been sleeping all day. He missed the entire thing.
I woke him up and turned on the television.
Later that night my family went out for my brother’s 16th birthday.
We had to pull my sobbing mother away from the television. She was sure the end of the world had started.
The televisions at Applebee’s were filled with terror and death.
But we tried to enjoy our family dinner.
And each other.
While I tried to figure out what I would say to sixth, seventh, and eighth graders tomorrow when learning Spanish would be the farthest thing from their mind.
Sluiter Nation is where she is trying to find her voice in this crazy world. Life has not always been easy, but she and her family find the joy anyway. She also reviews books at Katie’s Bookcase and is part of the leadership team at Write on Edge, a virtual writer’s workshop.