Last Wednesday started just like any other. No big deal, nothing to wrote home about. That morning someone at out school had scheduled a case conference. This means that administration and sp-ed along with the family would be there to talk about the progress of a child (among other things). The school counselor did not show up for that meeting. It was really odd, so we tried to call her cell- but it was off. The secretary had a key to her house (because they are such god friends) so she went over to be sure everything was alright. All of this was happening at 8am, just after school started. The night before we had all been in a staff meeting (that went WAY longer than it should have).
By the time I get a second to breath it is just one hour before school dismisses. During this time I started to notice everything around me. Gail still wasn't there. I hadn't seen Debbie since first thing in the morning. Then I walked into the office which was full of head honchos from ESC and people from other elementary schools. Something was up.
My teaching team (grade level) sat in one room together brainstorming what was going on, and trying to get new information. By 2:30, when we were to get our kids from specials for dismissal we knew that whatever it was had to be bad.
While walking my kiddos down the hall I looked back into the office, all windows covered, the faces red and splotchy. Makeup was off, and tissues were out.
The moment the kids were on the bus we were huddled down to the LGI room (where we have all of our staff meetings). Our principal shared with us that a part of our family had died. When Debbie went to check on Gail she found her lying on the floor where she had been making her lunch.
All of the counselors from the district where there for us that night, all night. The next day each elementary sent over their IAs and other support staff to be available if a teacher needed to step out of class. We told our students that morning what happened. There were grief specialists there to work with students, even a theropy dog that looked like my puppy.
The PTO came in and created a memorial wall with students (one wall turned into three). Cakes, cookies, doughnuts, coffee, pastries, and pizza were all brought in for our staff. Some from staff, other from parents.
We really are a family. My school is more than just my work community. We live and breath together. We are there for each other success and goofs. We give so much each day, aid are filled back up by each other. It was a painful loss.
Sunday was the showing- the room filled with school staff. Today was the funeral. Each staff member was given the day off for bereavement. The other elementary (10 in the district) principals, counselors, head honchos, IAs, and subs were on location to fill the holes while other staff went to the funeral. As requested in her will everyone went to the bar after to have a bud lite.
I chose to stay with my kids. I don't like funerals, and that's not how I grieve. It was a challenging day as one of the only staff members- but it was good to be there. It was good to have that responsibility as a first year teacher.
Tomorrow is the first 'normal' day since last Wednesday. prayers it goes ok.
Gail Hill, 56