May 21st, 2013
09:56 PM ET

Heroes or just doing their jobs? Teachers save lives during Oklahoma tornado

By Ed Lavandera and Dana Ford, CNN

Oklahoma City (CNN) - Second-grade teacher Tammy Glasgow walks around what's left of Briarwood Elementary, struggling to pick out of its wreckage the things that once made a school.

"This was the cafeteria."

"This is where my desk sat."

"This is my classroom door."

"That yellow wall that's standing, that's where we were," said Glasgow, pointing to a squat stack of cinder blocks.

She, like many teachers at Oklahoma City's Briarwood, helped to keep students safe when the tornado tore through Monday, killing at least 24 people in the area, but incredibly, given the state of the building, no one at Briarwood.

Their actions no doubt saved lives.

Many have called the teachers - at least one of whom literally shielded children with her body - heroes.

But Glasgow said simply: "It's just our job."

LZ Granderson: The courage of teachers

Right before the tornado hit, she hurried students into two bathrooms and a closet. There were about eights boys in the boys' bathroom, including Glasgow's son, and a dozen girls in the girls' bathroom.

She and other adults were with three children in the closet.

"Before I shut the doors, because both bathrooms had doors, I said, 'I'm going to shut these doors,' and I said, 'I love you.' The boys looked at me a little strange. (I) walked in the girls' (bathroom) and said, 'I love you' and they all said 'I love you' back.

"I just told them to pray, and then that's what we did the whole time in the closet, just prayed," said Glasgow.

The storm blasted through.

Read the full story

May 21st, 2013
02:50 PM ET

My View: The courage of teachers

LZ GrandersonBy LZ Granderson, CNN contributor

Editor's note: LZ Granderson, who writes a weekly column for, was named journalist of the year by the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association and was a 2011 Online Journalism Award finalist for commentary. He is a senior writer and columnist for ESPN the Magazine and Follow him on Twitter @locs_n_laughs.

(CNN) - Each day more than 55 million students attend the country's 130,000 schools.

Each day, parents and guardians entrust some 7 million teachers with the education of our children.

And on a normal day, that is all we expect teachers to do - teach.

But on those not-so normal days we are reminded that for six hours a day and more, five days a week, teaching is not the only thing teachers are charged with doing. On those not-so-normal days, we are reminded that teachers are also asked to be surrogate parents, protectors, heroes.

Monday was one of those not-so-normal days.

My View: Above all, teachers are in it for the kids

The nation watched in horror as a 2-mile-wide tornado with winds up to 200 mph tore through Moore, Oklahoma. As sirens blared and the ground shook, the full force of the twister hit Plaza Towers Elementary School around 3 p.m. It was full of students, young scared children who had nowhere to hide as the tornado ripped off the roof, sending debris everywhere.

"We had to pull a car out of the front hall off a teacher and I don't know what her name is, but she had three little kids underneath her," a rescuer said. "Good job teach."

Read Granderson's full column

Posted by
Filed under: Oklahoma • School safety • Teachers • Voices
Students scarred by war earn college degrees
Mireille Kibibi is one of seven refugees graduating this year from Berry College in north Georgia.
May 21st, 2013
05:00 AM ET

Students scarred by war earn college degrees

By Moni Basu, CNN

Rome, Georgia (CNN) - Mireille Kibibi's march to the graduation stage at Berry College was tough - laden with the burdens of war.

As a little girl, she fled civil war in Burundi and escaped to neighboring Rwanda in 1994, the year of the genocide. In the chaos, she was separated from her mother, whom she has never seen again. Her father died a few years later.

Kibibi made it to the United States with her grandmother in 2005 and resumed school after missing fourth, fifth and eighth grades.

Now she was about to receive a bachelor's degree in accounting.

She felt all those things a college graduate feels: the relief that exams are over. The excitement of starting life in the real world. The joy of making your family proud.

But Kibibi's graduation was also filled with longing.

On this humid Saturday morning, as dark clouds delivered drizzle over North Georgia, Kibibi, 23, sat nervously among 377 classmates.

The rows and rows of folding chairs had been arranged on the south lawn days in advance. She wished her father and especially her grandmother could see her now, resplendent in the knee-length red dress she'd ordered on eBay. Her grandmother, who raised her, had died a while back.

"She's watching you," her friend Fatima Bostan-Ali reassured her.

"She's proud," said another friend, Lima Naseri.

Kibibi cherishes the support. She knows her friends understand. They are from Afghanistan and also have traveled uneasy paths to graduation day.

Read the full story

Follow education news @CNNschools on Twitter or on Facebook

Posted by
Filed under: College • Graduation • International students