• The 1975 Omaha Tornado

    As we begin our open-ended sabbatical away from school, I can't help but think about the Omaha tornado of 1975. It destroyed a huge part of the city a month before the end of the school year. While my dad was worried that our trash cans had blown away, I was concerned about school and my friends, many of whom had houses destroyed or severely damaged.

    We missed a few days of learning so that everyone could pitch in and help neighbors whose lives were disrupted and traumatized. We were all amazed at the singular power of mother nature and what she did to our city--and psyches-- in just a few minutes.

    School was our balm and security blanket. Even as high schoolers, we needed the predictability that comes with schedules, homework, after-school clubs and milestone events like graduation, final exams, etc. When we did indeed return to classes, it was with a renewed sense of community and perspective of what truly mattered. Many felt the joy of just being unharmed. Others, like myself, felt so lucky that we had intact homes with working electricity. Others felt displaced and lost. For a while we all felt a sense of disequilibrium.

    Many of us (and our students) are already feeling that same sense of displacement and disequilibrium.

    Nature has once again shown its power to affect lives in unpredictable ways. But as I learned 45 years ago:

    1) We are stubborn and proud beings--we will come back from this unplanned break stronger and more determined in our resolve to positively affect young lives in however much time remains in the school year.

    2) We will return with an even stronger sense of community--nothing is going to throw us off our mission. This school year keeps throwing twisters, hailstones and lightning bolts our way-- but we're weathering the weather and still finding rainbows.

    3) We must accept, and yes even embrace, the strong winds of change that blow our way. Such times as these allow us to reflect, re-calibrate, recharge, and plan for better days.

    4) This is a time to take care of ourselves. Nature is telling us to take it slow and review the basics. Thanks, in large part, to the tornado drills and protocols Midwesterners practice their entire lives, no one was severely injured during the Omaha storm. We too will mitigate the ill-effects of this current force of nature by practicing all the things we've learned since childhood: wash your hands, cover your mouth, get a good night's sleep, stay home from school if you're not well, and eat healthy.

    5) Storms are just nature's power plays. Once they pass, we assess situations, fortify structures, repair holes, and strengthen foundations. Our foundation is already strong. It has sustained us this year and will continue to do so as we move forward.

    Thank you for your support. We will weather this atmospheric disturbance together. It is only temporary.

    Please take care of yourself. Stay well. Be prudent. Until we communicate again...