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Diane Fairben

Someone from the office came to the classroom door, and told me that the World Trade Center was on fire, and not to let the children look out the window. Knowing that my son Keith, a medic with New York Hospital would be there, I was concerned, but not overly so at the time. I went on with the first period lesson, and at the beginning of the second period, someone else came to the door and asked if I needed to make a phone call. I went into the library across the hall and used the phone to call my son's cell. I left a message.

The TV was on in the library, and there was a group of staff watching. The first tower began to fall, and we were all horrified. I was more concerned, but had to get back to class. If there's anything that can take your mind off something troubling you, it's a class of (more than) 20 4th graders! So we went on with the second period lesson.

As the morning went on, students began to be picked up by parents. The class started asking questions and I told them there was a fire at the World Trade Center and some parents came to get their children because they had left work. We talked about fire safety, and what people could do to get out of the buildings.

By noon, most students had been picked up, and our principal told us to go home. Most of us live on Long island, and we kind of followed each other in our cars, not getting very far, as the bridges were closed and parkways were clogged.

Our son, Keith was found 6 months later, as was his partner. But it was when I returned to school about 10 days later that my experience was so wonderful. I let my students know by coming back to school that I was still their teacher. They had been told what happened to my son and were full of questions. I told them they could ask me anything. They were so gentle and kind to me! They had been so worried, I learned, about me. There was not much teaching done that day for me. I learned from them! They truly helped me those six months we waited. They needed me, but I needed them more!

I know there are more exciting and braver things teachers did that day, but at P.S. 127, we gave our students the assurance and support they needed, then and for the days and months after. The UFT was wonderful as well, letting me know that there were other teachers like me, and giving me support.