This picture, one taken only a street away from a dear friend’s house, is one of many telling the story of the tornado destruction in my school community of Trussville, Alabama.
I’m awakened at 3:00 a.m. Monday morning January 23 to the television, radio, and tornado siren warnings…and it felt like the April 27th all over again. Tornadoes feel all too common in Alabama these days, and as my students entered the classroom yesterday, their stories of loss and destruction filled the room.
Thanks to our amazing principal, Phyllis Faust, who leads our family of teachers and learners every day, our students feel safe and encouraged because they know they have a school family to embrace them not just in the good times, but in the tough ones as well. Those students who were able to attend school yesterday showed strength and saw past the sadness and the destruction. They offered encouragement and hope to our “family,” those friends and community members who lost possessions, homes, and loved ones-not with monetary donations, or clothing, or supplies…but with poetry.
Ralph Fletcher’s poetry book, A Writing Kind of Day, and his mentor poem, “Poetry Stands,” reminded us all that poetry has the power to heal wounds, and when everything else around us falls apart, poetry stands.
Below are a few examples of poems written by my sixth-graders to lift the spirits of their friends and community members (first drafts written in a 47-minute class period, I might add ☺ ).
These young writers believe that words do have the power to heal, and amid the destruction in our community, poetry stands.