April 16, 2013

Remembering April 16, 1998

Today is the anniversary of my first classroom my first year of teaching being destroyed by a tornado.  
ha ha ha TOP THAT FOR A FIRST YEAR TEACHER STORY!!!!!!!!  ha ha ha

I had no idea I was moving into part of tornado ally, but now they are just part of life in Nashville Metro.  I also had no idea tornadoes could even hit a city?!?!!?  That is my rural Appalachian root showing I guess?!?! 

ANYWAYS?!?!!?  It was report card time again, and I had been staying at school until 6pm almost every night.  However, on this particular day...I was driving to work in the pouring rain, and a belt got "thrown" on my car.  I was able to drive to a repair shop near my school, and call someone to come get me.  That meant I'd not be able to stay and work after school though.  All day we had tornado warnings/watches...and had to come back into the main building several times.  I would have people knock on my door though, because my P.A. system was not working in my portable.  The end of the day came....and my ride was ready to take me to see if my car was ready.  As we left...we had no idea that a tornado was right behind us!    We stopped at the repair shop, but my car was not ready yet.  My friend said she'd be happy to take me home.  As we drove past Opry Land Hotel...the hail started coming down.  We pulled over because it was almost impossible to see.  As the hail cleared....we started on our way once more.  However, we quickly saw the tornado dropping out of the sky less than a quarter of a mile from where we were...and pulled over once more.  I'll never forget the sight, but could never truly describe it.  My friend said, "What do we do? Do we get in the ditch?"  Looking at the ditch full of water & power lines over head...I told her I thought we were safer in the car.  WE PRAYED.  We also watched.  The funnel dropped down and went through a building in front of us...then crossed the road we were on.  We had no idea that this tornado had just went through our school...destroying many of our portables and doing unbelievable damage to the neighborhood.  

It was several days before I was allowed back to see the damage to my classroom.  I had been told it was bad...and to prepare myself.  The portable had been pulled off its foundation and landed on a car that was parked next to it(the teacher seemed to blame me for this?!?!?).  Parts of the roof were missing & there were holes on opposite walls were something went straight through.  All the kids art was ruined.  Many of my supplies were saved because of storing them in Sterilite containers!!!(still a brand I trust)

I taught the rest of the year going from classroom to classroom(no cart..that was destroyed too).  My home base was on the stage in the cafeteria.  What memories!?!?!?!  I guess the bright side was....the following year we got brand new portables that actually had running water in them!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  

SO...next time you want to complain about your first year of teaching...THINK TWICE!  Someone has probably had it worse (even worse than me!!).  


  1. Wow! How scary! It certainly is good for us to have perspective and realize it's not so bad! I taught my first two years in a portable with no running water, but no tornado! Now I've got a room in the new building addition with TWO sinks. Amazing how awesome that is when you've done without! Thanks for the perspective!

  2. A very compelling story. I can't imagine the fear you'd feel. Was your art storm based for a while after...or was that too soon?