Teachers' lessons in heroism and healing
Moore, Oklahoma, teacher Tammy Glasgow walks from school with her second-grade students after a tornado.
May 27th, 2013
06:00 AM ET

Teachers' lessons in heroism and healing

By Jamie Gumbrecht, CNN

(CNN) - On page 73 of the elementary school handbook in Moore, Oklahoma, among entries about chewing gum and bicycles, there’s a warning about the weather.

“Sudden tornadoes are a common occurrence in Oklahoma, especially in the spring,” it cautions. “Teachers should strive to maintain an atmosphere of orderliness and calmness.”

Indeed, they knew just what to do last week as a massive EF5 tornado approached. Children crouched along interior walls, faces down, legs tucked, fingers woven over their necks. They bunched into closets or huddled beneath their desks. Teachers positioned themselves between the kids and the howling, quaking wind they heard coming.

At Briarwood Elementary School, Tammy Glasgow told her second-graders she loved them as she shut the doors to the bathrooms where they sheltered.

First-grade teacher Waynel Mayes commanded her kids to sing “Jesus Loves Me” over the roar of the wind - to scream it if they needed to.

When the walls quivered at Plaza Towers Elementary School, principal Amy Simpson shouted “In God’s name, go away, go away!,” again, again, again, until the tornado had.

But gone, too, in the aftermath were Briarwood and Plaza Towers schools, decimated into a tangle of bricks, desks, school books and mud. Seven Plaza Towers students died in the rubble. All of Briarwood’s students survived, along with thousands more around the district.

At a news conference late last week, Simpson recounted, “Not one parent blamed us … because they’re Oklahomans, too, and they know what a tornado means, and they know what it means in school.”

They know, just as she does, that teachers were watching over their children.

“The teachers,” Simpson said, “were able to act quickly, stay calm and take literally the weight of a wall onto their bodies to save those that were under them.”

After years of political beatdowns and public backlash, educators have emerged as heroes time and time again in recent months.

It happened at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut, where six educators died along with 20 students when a gunman burst in.

Again in Taft, California, where a teacher stood before a 16-year-old shooter who had already wounded a student and persuaded him to hand over his shotgun.

Another time in January, when a school bus driver in Dale County, Alabama, died while blocking an armed kidnapper from snatching multiple children from his bus.

Even last week, when Ingrid Loyau-Kennett approached a man wielding a bloody meat cleaver on a busy street in London. She calmly kept the man talking until police arrived. Loyau-Kennett hadn’t trained for this, exactly, she told ITV’s Daybreak, but said she used to be a teacher.

As the man with the butcher knife spoke, she said she thought of a school nearby that would soon release children in the middle of the gruesome scene. She said it was more important to keep talking than to worry for herself.

“Better me than the child,” Loyau-Kennett said.

Press and parents call them heroes, angels, saviors.

“She’s a member of our family for the rest of our lives, and she’ll be a part of it forever,” Moore resident David Wheeler said of teacher Julie Simon, whose arms shielded his son as the monstrous tornado passed.

The praise is a change in tone, but delivered by tragedies that will haunt teachers all over.

“We are rightly taken by the fact that some teachers risked their lives and gave their lives,” said David Steiner, dean of Hunter College’s School of Education and a former New York state education commissioner. “We should just shut up and admire (them).”

Still, he wonders, how long does awe last, and what comes after?

Does the teacher who almost lost her life get sufficient planning time for class? Will a reconstructed building bring resources for an educator to try new curricula? Is there a monetary reward that might entice a low-paid teacher to stay? Will there be counseling to help educators recover from a crisis?

And what about those who can dazzle in the classroom but haven’t faced down a tornado or talked down a gunman? What about those teachers who save children’s lives in quieter ways every day?

“I worry about the answer,” Steiner said. “You shouldn’t have to be a hero to be a respected teacher.”

Just doing their job

In the minutes before the tornado hit Briarwood Elementary, special education aide Suzanne Haley’s students ducked beneath desks while teachers hovered above to block debris.

“It sounded like a jet, low, coming closer and closer,” Haley said.

Minutes later, she and others were jammed in the wreckage of the school, conscious, but struggling to move. She couldn’t free her leg; it was impaled by a metal stake recently attached to a student’s desk.

“By the grace of God, I kept it together,” Haley said. “I couldn’t go into hysterics in front of my children, in front of the other students. Not even till after surgery, after I came out of anesthesia, did I lose it.

“These children, we see their smiles, we see their tears every day, in and out. We love them, and they’re our babies.

“It’s nothing anybody wouldn’t do.”

In Newtown, in Moore, any time a headline speaks of a hero teacher, the educators inevitably accept thanks and deflect the praise. Some lament that they couldn’t prevent students’ injuries or react before the first shot.

The response is just part of the job, educators say.

“They’re probably much less comfortable in the spotlight and more comfortable in the classroom,” said Gregg Garn, dean of the University of Oklahoma’s Jeannine Rainbolt College of Education in Norman, which has hundreds of alumni working in Moore’s schools.

LZ Granderson: The courage of teachers

And they’re right: It is part of the job. School safety and crisis response is a constant discussion in every school, especially since the 1999 shooting at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, which left one teacher and 14 students dead, including the two gunmen.

Safety comes up in prospective teachers’ college courses, Garn said, and it’s one of their first lessons when they take over a classroom. In most schools, there’s explicit, site-specific instruction on where to go in case of a fire, how to lock down during a shooting and how to stay safe during a natural disaster.

“They’re willing to put themselves in harm's way,” he said. “What you saw (in Moore) was just a reflection of that.”

Any time there’s a story of a school in crisis, other schools around the country evaluate their own teachers’ plans, their unique what-ifs, educators said. In Moore, the conversation is well underway.

Robert Romines, the assistant superintendent for Moore schools, supports adding storm shelters to all schools, but said “money is an obstacle.” New schools will be rebuilt on the sites destroyed last week, and he hopes those, at least, will have the budget for safe rooms.

District administrators said the tornado procedures laid out in their handbook and crisis plans worked, for the most part.

“We have 23 sites where the faculty and staff just went above and beyond to protect 23,000-plus children in our district,” said Romines, who takes over as superintendent in July. “It was a miracle in how they handled things.”

Rebuilding, he said, is “the beginning of our healing process.”

But teachers who’ve survived traumatic events say there’s more to healing than that.

Hard lessons learned

School was just ending for the day when David Benke heard the pop of a firecracker. He was on parking lot duty at his Colorado middle school in February 2010 and took off toward the noise, fuming at the careless students who would do something so stupid. That’s when he saw the man reloading a rifle.

Children scattered as the gunman got off another shot, sending one of Benke’s students to the snowy ground. The then-57-year-old teacher bolted a few more yards, tugged at the man’s clothes and wrapped his own arms and leg around the shooter. An assistant principal charged outside and grabbed the rifle by the strap. Inside the school, teachers hauled students to safety, crawled along the carpeting to check that doors were locked and, afraid to even crack an ice tray, pressed Popsicles against another student’s wound.

Law enforcement was there in about 90 seconds and peeled Benke off the shooter. The teacher and others were hailed as heroes. Reporters tailed Benke’s wife as she drove to meet him, and flocked to a news conference where he shared the story. He still has a grateful voicemail from the former governor and keeps education secretary Arne Duncan’s number in his phone.

What he remembered, though, was the sight of a student bleeding in the snow, gasping – a student whose pain he hadn’t prevented.

“You’ve got to understand that right after, I thought I’d messed up,” Benke said. “It wasn’t until I was leaving and there was this sheriff’s guy … he said, ‘You did good work today.’ ”

Students and teachers were back in school within a few days, he said, handing out cookies in the space where a gunman tried to kill their classmates; both injured students survived. For a while, it was impossible not to think of it in class.

“You try to get a little bit of effort out of a kid that’s basically doing nothing, you can legitimately say ‘You know there are people here who would walk through fire for you,’ ” Benke said. “ 'Why aren’t you holding up your end?’ ”

Three years later, it’s ancient history for most students, but not for him.

He thinks about it a little every day. He’s diligent about locking doors and keeping watch. He can still envision the people he saw standing over him on the ground – the teachers, parents, bus driver and maintenance worker ready to pounce if he lost his grip on the gunman.

“I finally realized why I kind of get emotional and mist up,” Benke said. “It’s not because I’m afraid or anything like that. It’s because I’m just so damn proud of the people that I work with, and the kids.”

What really makes schools safer?

Just as in the days after the shooting, a counselor checks with him whenever there’s news of a school shooting or even a simple drill that might trigger a traumatic memory.

It’s an unusual response, Benke thinks, but then, his district is especially prepared for crisis: His middle school is just miles away from Columbine High School.

In fact, few teachers who witness school violence are offered counseling, said Edward Mooney, a California high school teacher and Northeastern University doctoral student who studies the effect of school violence on teachers.

After disturbing events such as a shooting, many teachers struggle with post-traumatic stress. It can be disabling, and made worse by administrators who want to move on, avoid the topic, “basically the treatment of ‘You’ll get over it,' " Mooney said.

Mooney has taught for more than 20 years, and with every tale of teachers’ heroism – whether Moore, Newtown or events that hardly make national news – he worries about how few resources exist for them.

“The teacher feels overwhelming anguish. Those are empathetic, compassionate people,” Mooney said. As he wrote his dissertation, he thought of his own colleagues and especially his students. “‘What if it happened to him? Or her?’ That would shatter me.”

A nurturing school climate and support system for teachers who’ve experienced violent trauma can help, Mooney said, but it seemed like a tough culture to create amid the budget cuts and teacher bashing of the past few years.

“We have this unusual relationship with young people that many other people in professions don’t have,” Mooney said. “I hope society and districts see that.”

Benke, the Colorado math teacher, is on the verge of retirement. After more than 30 years of algebra, he said, it’s time to try something new.

He wants to lobby for some changes to teacher certification renewal.  He’d like it to include first aid courses or self-defense classes, easy additions he said would cost nothing and keep students safer. He wants legislators to respect teachers for their academic expertise, but also as first responders, who need a clear emergency response protocol. He’s writing about what happened in the middle school parking lot, maybe a book.

It was an intense few minutes, he said, but then, teaching is an intense business.

There’ no handbook for how to motivate an apathetic middle school boy, to discover a girl abused at home, to know whose mom is dying of cancer, who is smarter than her homework suggests, who responds best to a lecture in the hallway or who needs a hug.

“That’s a whole lot more lasting than whether they remember the quadratic formula,” Benke said. “I used to think my job was to try to get as much math in kids’ heads as I could.

“Then, I realized, what I did was build people.”

Follow @CNNschools on Twitter.

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Filed under: Oklahoma • Policy • School safety • Teachers
soundoff (193 Responses)
  1. Linda

    Jesse, our teaching staff bought a training kit called "Tools For Teaching" by Fred Jones. It is an awesome video program supported by a textbook for the user that lays out ways to motivate students through things as diverse as furniture placement to activities as rewards (small ones – don't assume you know what this is. This is an amazing program that really helped our teaching staff, who work totally with adjudicated youth – a very unmotivated population. You can find it on the internet and check it out. By the way, Fred is very funny too, so it is not torture to sit through his trainings, even on video!

    June 1, 2013 at 8:08 pm |
  2. John Mack

    Well said. I have two nieces who are elementary school teachers, and a nephew who has done three tours in Afghanistan. Two professions equally deserving our respect.

    May 29, 2013 at 1:07 am |
  3. Bill

    We just passed Memorial Day. Veteran's Day is in November. Teachers should be considered, as many dedicate their lives to see that spark of knowledge lit in a young child's eyes. Some of course, put everything on the line to protect their students. The current news narrative is to pass off teachers as living for the summer, and to blame for poor test scores. We need the balls to put forward an agenda that we are much more than that.

    May 28, 2013 at 10:07 pm |
    • Klutz-

      What about nurses, doctors, firemen, police officers? They are the real heroes. Oh, and I am an educator.

      May 30, 2013 at 12:31 pm |
  4. Agrav8td

    I don't know what kind of person it takes to be a teacher, but you couldn't pay me enough to put up with rotten kids and their parents.

    May 28, 2013 at 1:03 pm |
    • Greg

      Rotten kids? Well you are stereotyping a very SMALL population of the student body. Maybe you should help out at your local school for a day and see that the "rotten kids" are not in high numbers.

      May 28, 2013 at 1:24 pm |
    • Jeff

      If you can read this, thank a teacher. Teaching is, afterall, a nearly thankless job. Society expects teachers to solves so many ills as parents abdicate their role and authority at home. I am inspired by this article. We should all look at teachers in a different light, one divorced from budget squabbles and concern over student test scores. The final paragraphs really make it clear that teachers are raising our kids because most of have gven up doing it at home.

      May 28, 2013 at 1:33 pm |
      • oksunny

        well said

        May 28, 2013 at 2:05 pm |
      • Melody

        It's not just teachers; it's all of us involved in education. Anyone who works within the school district should be referred to as educators. it's not a job nor a career, it's a passion. we don't do it for the money, 'cause there isn't any. we do it for the kids, pure and simple.

        May 28, 2013 at 8:08 pm |
  5. Mari

    I just pray that when this is all said and done, that whenever the new schools and houses around these tornado prone areas are built, that it will be mandatory for tornado shelters to be built. We have the technology and if you want to stay in that area, fine, but for heaven's sake, build some tornado shelters! I applaud all the heros and am very sad so many lives were lost, but think of all the lives that could have been saved with a tornado shelter? They should not have had to hide behind desks and bathrooms!

    May 28, 2013 at 9:55 am |
    • hello?

      Thanks for the prayers, however OK is a red state and for the most part Red States dont like to fund schools or educators. Most likely they will construct another mass coffin for children in the middle of tornado alley once all the media attention moves on.

      May 28, 2013 at 10:17 am |
    • WilliamP

      Mari, a number of children that died were indeed in the basement of the school. But so were the water mains and the strength of the tornado was such that it caused the ceiling to collapse and the pipes burst. They drowned.
      The point I'm making is that in the midst of an F5 there is not a lot that can save you other than luck.

      May 28, 2013 at 10:26 am |
      • Di Collins

        WilliamP..they did NOT drown. That was a false story. They died of mechanical asphyxia. They were crushed by something that didn't allow them to breathe.

        May 28, 2013 at 3:34 pm |
    • okrungirl

      I grew up in Moore Public Schools. There are 22 elementary schools, 5 junior highs and 3 high schools. Plaza Towers was built in the 1960s and Briarwood in the 1980s before the shelter science was so exact. It wasn't until May 3rd '99 that Moore, a populated area, understood what an EF5 was capable of and it hit after school was out. This was the first time a tornado has hit during the school day in the metro area. Each elementary school would need a shelter to house 500 – 700 students and the high schools 1500 students. This is not a small school district by any means. Digging basements on school grounds for 700 + people in Moore would be quite the undertaking, doing the whole state, even more. BTW Tornado Alley is not just OK, it extends from S. Dakota to central Texas over to Missouri and Iowa. Alabama is not in Tornado Alley and has had just as many EF5s as Oklahoma. A safe room above ground has to be concrete and steel reinforced with no seems, putting those in every school in Tornado Alley would be costly.
      Living here all my life I've been in a storm shelter maybe 3 times, I currently live a mile from the zone and my family lost houses on in '99. My point is we can't natural disaster proof the entire central plains area. Most Tornadoes hit non populated areas and they usually aren't EF5s. We can't earthquake proof California, Hurricane proof the East and Gulf Coast, you can't fireproof the wildfire areas. I understand what everyone is saying, and ideally we would love to shelter our schools but it may not be fiscally possible and I have children. My kids were 1 mile from Briarwood at Oakridge. Their father checked them out and put them in our shelter moments before it hit. Most parents had checked the kids out. Plaza normally has 500 kids, on that afternoon there were only 75 left because the parents got to them in time. I'm sure it will come up in board meetings and maybe will pass a bond issue to approve it. I would certainly vote for it and pay more taxes to make it happen, but if it's a billion dollars per district or something absurd, we'll have to look at other options. Canceling school like a snow day won't go to well because there are so many times nothing happens. Anyway, that's my two cents. Please quit judging us. This is our home and we have smart, caring and hard working people here.

      May 28, 2013 at 10:42 pm |
    • Alice in PA

      But are you willing to have your taxes raised to get these things built?

      May 29, 2013 at 6:52 am |
  6. js

    It ruins the heroic efforts of the teachers when the corrupt coward Obama speaks about them. He is the biggest coward in the history of the nation. Pathetic that he is the President. Looking forward to his impeachment.

    May 28, 2013 at 1:16 am |
    • SAO

      Please keep your political views out of this. I could easily point out the questionable activities of our former president but I won't. As for his "impending impeachment" he has done nothing wrong to be impeached.

      May 28, 2013 at 11:28 am |
    • David

      It is very sad that you will use the deaths of innocent children to try to push your political agenda. You are a very little person js, and you should be embarrassed. Comments like yours makes President Obama all the stronger in people's eyes...thank you for your gift to President Obama.

      May 28, 2013 at 11:49 am |
    • evilroyslade

      WOW js your so !@#$%

      May 28, 2013 at 12:29 pm |
    • Roman

      I'm a teacher and I'd rather have Obama speak for me than you.

      May 28, 2013 at 1:32 pm |
      • Snacklefish

        js: Apply cold water to the burned area...

        May 28, 2013 at 2:25 pm |
    • Rich

      Yeah he'll be impeached right after W. stands trial for falsely leading us to war and other war crimes.

      May 28, 2013 at 2:51 pm |
    • PMDU

      Impeached for doing what? A coward? For killing Bin Laden? How about our previous President for going to war in Iraq based on false pretenses that resulted in the deaths of thousands of Americans & Iraqis. Isn't that a more serious impeachable act?

      May 28, 2013 at 2:54 pm |
  7. james mcbride

    In a disaster situation I would use children as human shields and make no bones about it. I'd be walking out of any situation alive and that's all that matters to me.

    May 28, 2013 at 12:59 am |
    • Tom Miller

      Huh. That makes you pretty much useless to anyone but your solipsistic self, but then I guess that was sort of your point.

      May 28, 2013 at 12:10 pm |
    • JCP

      It's obvious that YOU are not a teacher- and for that the rest of the world is quite thankful. Your family should be embarrassed to have raised someone so selfish-

      May 28, 2013 at 7:55 pm |
  8. gman

    I think the real tragedy is that schools in tornado alley don't have secure areas against these common meteorological occurrences.

    May 28, 2013 at 12:57 am |
    • Nicole

      EF5 is very uncommon. The US averages slightly less than 1 EF5 tornado per year. It would be like putting kids in bullet proof vests because of an occasional school shooting. There are very few tornado related fatalities in schools. Most serious tornadoes strike outside of school hours.

      Anyway. Homes and buisinesses do not have tornado shelters appropriate to withstand EF5s, either. A basement may provide protection, ditto for an interior room. These are the places children are more likely to be during a tornado.

      May 28, 2013 at 12:06 pm |
  9. Frederick L May sr

    Many years ago I received a phone call late in the evening. It was my sons teacher. She proceeded to tell me that my son might not graduate if he did not get his act together. She also told me that there were two other students who were in trouble. After we chatted about my son she went on to say she had just talked to the other students parents and they said she is getting paid to see that they graduate. They were busy and did not have time for her. We talked about an hour and she thanked me for the chat. The next week I went to the school to see what I could do to help. It was a simple answer. He had two projects he had to finish or he would not graduate. That teacher was more concerned about my son than relaxing after a busy week in school. Teachers go to great extremes to help their students. They are the most under paid people in this country.

    May 28, 2013 at 12:44 am |
  10. mickinmd

    And as soon as peoples short memories forget this they'll also forget teachers are in the 3rd lowest-paying profession requiring a four-year college degree -including benefits- and forget teachers put in 300 hrs/year MORE than the average worker and call for ending their pensions, etc.

    May 28, 2013 at 12:33 am |
    • CS

      Most districts are now pushing teachers to get a Master's degree – happening here in TN. A very well educated group of professionals. And another $15,000 student loan. However, most consider it a privilege to be working with your children.

      May 29, 2013 at 12:20 pm |
  11. Jim

    How quickly will we forget how important our teachers are? Probably the next time we are asked how much they deserve to be paid. Prove me wrong?

    May 28, 2013 at 12:16 am |
    • Alice in PA

      Unfortunately you will not be proved wrong

      May 29, 2013 at 6:54 am |
  12. cgs

    I hear stories of these teachers praying with their students in their schools during the tornado. Are the liberals going to demand that they be fired?

    May 28, 2013 at 12:02 am |
    • bros

      I'm a liberal and an educator.

      Those teachers were doing what any teacher would do – whatever is necessary to keep the class cool and collected in case we had to move quickly.

      May 28, 2013 at 12:15 am |
    • Alan2236

      CGS, most teachers ARE liberals. Your narrow world-view does not allow for that, but in Moore OK, many teachers DID pray with their kids as the tornado approached, and none of them got fired. (Although somebody like you did start that rumor.

      May 28, 2013 at 12:16 am |
    • elle

      I don't think anyone would demand that they be fired. However, I grew up as a non religious kid in a religious community and I was about 7 years old when other kids started telling me I was going to go to hell (neverrmind that I had my whole life in which I might have come to Jesus if I had been left to decide for myself.) I was told I could stand in the hall if I wanted when the lords prayer was being said, because back then, they didn't care about separating religion from public schools, or if they did, it was not unforced. I bit my lip and sat through it. So I would not have minded if other people prayed. But being forced to sing Jesus loves me..... She couldn't come up with anything more neutral. Do you know how I would have felt???

      May 28, 2013 at 12:16 am |
      • elle

        My point is only meant to tell you how it feels to be excluded. And when you are too young to have formed your own religious beliefs, in a public school, for the religious views of a majority to be forced on you...it doesn't feel good. I certainly felt visibly and publicly shamed for being non religious in a fairly religious community, and you shouldn't at school. It also alienated me from Christians who probably thought they were doing good by exposing me to their faith. But they were mean spirited about it, and I was just a kid. I used to check my basement for fire every night, and grew up wuith a pretty sever anxiety condition. Now, Ive studied religion and philosophy and Im firmly agnostic. that is, we can't prove or disprove the truth about God. Since that is the case, we could consider being more kind about our beliefs. I wish this lady had not chosen Jesus love me, cuz I sure grew up feeling not loved by Jesus, just because of the way I was treated at school. She meant well, I am sure. I just wish she'd chosen the national anthem or something that would have included everyone.
        I'm just trying to describe what it feels like, people.

        May 28, 2013 at 12:29 am |
      • Autumn

        @ elle, When a tornado is approaching you, tossing cars, buildings and countless other kinds of debris all around... your life, the lives of your loved ones and the lives of the innocent young children huddled before you hangs in the balance... let's take the time to think about what song would be politically correct to sing in a desperate attempt to comfort everyone... what is wrong with you?

        May 28, 2013 at 2:02 pm |
    • Sandy

      No one would demand that she be fired, but I can't say I'm thrilled at her song choice. I can understand wanting to pray, and I can understand the singing, but the image of everyone singing this song together just makes me wonder at how little diversity seems to exist in Oklahoma. I'm a Christian, but I'm Catholic, and I couldn't sing that song beyond - maybe - the first line, because I never attended Vacation Bible School. It's a Protestant song. There are very few songs that everyone knows, especially when it comes to religion. Generally when someone says "but everybody knows that one" they mean "everybody like me knows that song."

      May 28, 2013 at 1:16 am |
      • MWW

        really?? Really?? REALLY? would it have been better if it had been No Doubt? Get a life. He/she picked a song in a moment of stress and you, "aren't trilled" with the song choice? Hum a few bars are get over yourself.

        May 28, 2013 at 1:56 am |
      • hello?

        I cannot imagine my son being told to sing some Christian song and face death with unknown works and meaning being possibly the last thing he ever deal with. While I applaud these teachers for singing, praying or doing everything in their power to help these kids. I think the selection of some silly Jesus loves me song is almost sickening. It is a shame these teachers cant think of anything other than some Sunday school song to force on these kids as a way of coping.

        May 28, 2013 at 9:51 am |
    • Anne

      I'm a retired teacher of English to special education students, and I am a liberal. I would not call for firing any teacher who prayed during such a terrible event. During my 25 years of teaching, I prayed silently throughout the day. One's religious life is personal. And if praying aloud with the children helped stay calm, then that was the perfect thing for the teacher to do. Even some people who profess to be atheists pray during moments of extreme crisis.

      May 28, 2013 at 8:07 am |
    • hello?

      No one in their right mind would demand these teachers be fired. I am a liberal and all your statement does in fuel divisiveness in our society. Please step away from the Glenn Beck cool aid and get a real life that involves ALL Americans. I feel for the teachers and the kids here and I am thankful they made it through I also know their god and jesus ignored their pleas and song. I hope my kids teacher never has to resort to some trivial song in order to bring kids together in a situation like this. I am not slaming these teachers either I am slamming the pervasiveness and continued radical push of Christian belief in our society in general.

      May 28, 2013 at 9:56 am |
      • ang

        God did not ignor their prayers. Satan could hav killed them all. but that didn't happen.

        May 28, 2013 at 1:13 pm |
      • cvg22

        you are slamming and i'm calling you out on it. that particular teacher treated each and every child in their care as if they were their own and excluded no child in their prayers for surviving that storm. for you to use this disaster to express your opinion that a radical christian movement is using the public schools to convert your child when disaster strikes is ridiculous and improper. shame on you and shame on your parents for not working harder to instill some basic respect for others beliefs. Intolerance against Christians should be just as abhorent as intolerance against any group. There are bad people in organized religion but for you to paint the entire faith as evil is just expressing how incredibly ignorant you really must be. Bless this teacher, all of the teachers, and the children they are charged with protecting.

        May 28, 2013 at 5:16 pm |
  13. Isa

    "After years of political beatdowns and public backlash, educators have emerged as heroes time and time again in recent months." Educators will appreciate this statement. After serving as a teacher for almost 30 years (and yes I am still in the classroom) in an urban low income area, I can tell you most teachers go the extra mile for their students and often do not see the fruit of their labor. There are those few who are there for the paycheck and the vacation time. For most of us, it is a calling and we understand the heavy responsibility that we have for each and every child that sits before us. I don't think many jobs compare to teaching. The only one that comes close is firefighters. Both jobs require down time to stay sane!

    May 27, 2013 at 11:46 pm |
  14. DocHollywood

    Why are teachers called heros in times of crisis but any other time they're called money hungry, union grubbing sob's?

    May 27, 2013 at 11:30 pm |
    • Margaret

      Interesting isn't it. They work awful hours, I know some who are there until 7 P.M. some nights, they have kids in classes who come in with bedbugs, and nits. Some have roaches (the kind with legs) in their backpacks. They have colds and flu, chicken pox and measles. Kids who are violent, on drugs, drunk or hungry and have not had a meal since the lunch the day before. They deal with kids who have been molested by a parents spouse or boyfriend or an uncle. They deal with kids who have not had clean clothes or a bath in weeks. They deal with parents who don't care as long as the kid is out of their hair. Kids who sleep in cars because they are homeless. They have to spend summer going to classes and often spend their own money to buy school supplies. I have one teacher I communicate with regularly on a recycle cite who requests items for "her" kids. No not all teachers are top notch but one heck of a lot of them are doing the best they can with what they have to work with.

      May 28, 2013 at 12:15 am |
    • hello?

      Whats more interesting is that it is the very same people who attack teachers, teachers unions, teachers pay and teachers benefits that are now bringing up the "praying" issue as a reason to fire the teachers. No liberals are railing for dismmisal against any of these teadhers for what they did in this terrifying experince. These folks are hypocrits trying to undue America's education in any way shape or form. They are Right Wing extremists with only hate, government destruction and supporting corporate greed as their platform.

      May 28, 2013 at 10:02 am |
  15. Christen

    When the media labels anyone a hero I am always dubious...Why? Two words: Jessica Lynch. Enough said.

    May 27, 2013 at 11:20 pm |
    • hello?

      Let me get this straight, you are inferring that Jessica Lynch is not a hero. Despite the media hype about a firefight and her bravery in the battle which for the most part Is media lies. She still was a soldier driving a truck in a war, who was attacked by the enemy soldiers she attempted to use her training to defend and protect herself and was wounded several times during the conflict. What part of that removes the hero status from Jessical Lynch? Whe put her life on the line to supply the front line of our troops her whole convoy got lost, not just her. She also told the truth in her own book and didnt make up stories she was honest unlike at least one of the guys in Seal Team 6 who were looking for the glory of being "The One". She is a hero to me same as Seal Team 6.

      May 28, 2013 at 10:12 am |
  16. al

    How can this be true? governors chris christie and scott walker say the teachers don't care, have a cushy 6 hour a day job, with summers off, make too much, and have too many benifits?

    May 27, 2013 at 11:17 pm |
    • Tom Miller

      Yep. Like bunches of other people (Congress, state legislatures, corporations, 1%-ers, etc) do from time to time. On the other hand, it's like any other large group; some are bad, most are good. In this case, really, REALLY good. Hope the counselors stick with them over the years; a lot of them were young folks.

      May 28, 2013 at 12:15 pm |
  17. MP in VA

    Only when our student and parents reciprocate our dedication, will there be any hope for this society.

    May 27, 2013 at 11:17 pm |
  18. MP in VA

    The sad state of affairs of our country is that for all the talk about how great teachers are, there is no action to show it. Teacher Appreciation Week amounts to the pat on the back before the slap in the face. When our society ACTS appreciative of its teachers, then, and only then, will it be a society on the move. Currently, ours is a repressed, self-absorbed, and stagnant society.

    May 27, 2013 at 11:15 pm |
    • LT Fang

      At least we're paying them lip services now, which should be considered a huge progress.

      May 27, 2013 at 11:19 pm |
  19. jeff

    back to the top of the laundry list?

    May 27, 2013 at 11:14 pm |
  20. Medicine Squah

    Really people!?! Stop squabbling and just honor our educators of academics and heroism.

    May 27, 2013 at 11:10 pm |
  21. abbydelabbey

    What happened in Moore, Oklahoma speaks volumes to the dedication of teachers. But day in and day out our teachers do more than is ever reported in the news.
    They spend their own money for school supplies, buy lunches for children who forgot their money or lunch, spend extra time to tutor, etc. No teacher becomes a teacher for the "high" pay. They work long hours - after school at home grading papers, doing lesson plans, fixing their classrooms, going to PTA meetings, meeing with parents, spending their summers either teaching extra classes, tutoring, and/or getting their required continuing education units, etc. God bless them all.

    May 27, 2013 at 11:04 pm |
    • Nobland

      Unfortunately, day in and day out, they are also slandered and demeaned by conservative ranters as lazy, good for nothing public employees. I am getting tired of hearing that stuff. People need to push back and defend our teachers and so many others who work for the public good.

      May 27, 2013 at 11:13 pm |
      • Yon

        Really, because I thought you would be complaining about her singing about Jesus

        May 28, 2013 at 12:05 am |
    • Kisten Moonsamy

      Your teachers are visionaries of students who are responsible for future leaders of this world. Despite your own personal shortcomings you dedicated teachers doing an excellent work in order to produce top class of students . Therefore don't despair be faithful , your rewards may be not seen by the media and people but God is noticing your outstanding effort which will not go in vain. Some children may be difficult to teach and control but you teachers still have the strength to continue in your chosen profession. Great work ...... Keep it up.

      May 28, 2013 at 1:21 am |
  22. Christen

    It's times like this that make us realize how mundane the CNN heroes awardees really are. No these teachers did not start a shelter for unwed puppies in a third-world country, or start a website to alert us to the suffering of trans-gendered baristas in San Jose...they only placed themselves in harms way to save children. But I will certainly think of them when CNN further degrades the meaning of the word with their awards later this year. For the record (and for those of you who only watch CNN) these are real heroes.

    May 27, 2013 at 11:04 pm |
  23. Klutz-

    Teachers mentioned have acted heroically. But, this is not a trait possessed exclusively by teachers. What about bus drivers, nurses, playground directors, neighbors, military, police, you, etc. In the time of crisis it is natural for an adult to protect the children, elderly, and disabled, So, let's stop with how saintly teachers are. They are just people like you and I.

    May 27, 2013 at 11:00 pm |
    • jvburrows

      Some teachers ran outside and worried about themselves. Some jumped on the kids to shield them from debris because there was no walls or ceiling and the F5 tornado was throwing cars and trees around at over 200mph. Just like you and me, huh? My child went to Briarwood here in Moore, and was there. 1st grade. Her teacher IS a hero and not every teacher did what she did, some are seen on camera phones and iphone videos as running out of the bathroom and not even looking at the kids. So you might want to think hard about what your posting before opening your mouth.....Im sorry if you havnt been patted on the back enough at your job, but that doesnt mean other people dont deserve one once in a while....

      May 27, 2013 at 11:06 pm |
      • Mancy

        Klutz said the teachers mentioned did act heroically. You said yourself, not all did. Like all professions, the best people are never paid or appreciated for what they do. The average worker may be close. Those who slack by, run out, or think of meeting the minimum required to hold their job cause comments about the profession being over paid, lazy or what ever applies to that group.

        May 27, 2013 at 11:57 pm |
      • Klutz-

        I was in education and I know of what I speak. Oh, and I have plenty of awards to show I have been patted on the back sufficiently.

        May 30, 2013 at 12:27 pm |
    • Alan2236

      Klutz, you are right that teachers are not unique in acting heroically when the situation calls for it. They are just ordinary people, but ordinary people will sometimes become heroes when they have to. Let's celebrate that when it happens.

      Lately, there have been several events involving schools in which teachers have been heroic. That doesn't make all teachers saints, but give credit where credit is due.

      May 28, 2013 at 12:52 am |
      • Klutz-

        Give credit to the person, not the profession!

        May 30, 2013 at 12:29 pm |
  24. Tony

    Yeah, actually it DOES matter. You're BOTH SCARRED for LIFE. The children will just have to live with it longer, and probably without any counseling that will help them or you.

    May 27, 2013 at 10:59 pm |
  25. Alex

    I remember after 9/11 happened, churches everywhere were filled to capacity. My own church swelled to over 1,000 people, where we typically have about 300.

    If God has to bring on disasters to "help" people remember Him and believe in him, that is what he will do.

    May 27, 2013 at 10:57 pm |
    • Pantaleon

      If so, then you believe in a sick and twisted god.

      May 27, 2013 at 11:06 pm |
    • jvburrows

      Sorry for the comments Alex, you posted a religous post on CNN and Obama hasnt told his CNN followers that its ok to pray and be religous in public. I agree with your post, sorry for the replies that dont.

      May 27, 2013 at 11:09 pm |
      • Cathy

        I'm sorry that you are so ignorant that you believe in an invisible god that does nothing but cause tragedies so more people can attend church? That is the furthest thing from my mind, as I hope it is from most reasonably intelligent people.

        May 27, 2013 at 11:12 pm |
    • Cathy

      That is the most ignorant thing one could say.

      May 27, 2013 at 11:10 pm |
    • Christen

      Arrrrgh...since this was an act of God maybe this will have an opposite effect.

      May 27, 2013 at 11:24 pm |
    • Jimmy Thom

      God doesn't send storms to make us remember him.. God designed earth to let it do what it does. Just like God gave us free will, so morons like you could post on CNN

      May 28, 2013 at 12:29 am |
    • CS

      Whose God?

      May 29, 2013 at 12:31 pm |
  26. Sally

    I have disarmed a middle school student trying to stab himself to death, taken away a gun from a student about to shoot a bus full of kids, and held a child and gave her CPR when she was shot in the brain stem by another student in the classroom. Also, I have held a child beaten, a young man whose mother just committed suicide, a brother who just lost his sister to murder and so much more. Yes, there is more to teaching than book learning, there are life experiences students learn, teachers share, and we both grow from them. I know that my over 45 years of teaching in an impoverished, urban district has made me a better person and hopefully, had a positive impact on the hundreds of students I have taught.

    May 27, 2013 at 10:52 pm |
  27. El Flaco

    Let us not forget what Conservatives have taught us. Teachers are just union thugs who are brainwashing our children. They make way too much money. During the summers, they should be picking up trash along the highways.

    May 27, 2013 at 10:41 pm |
    • coaster26

      If the people who had that mindset would spend a week shadowing a teacher of any grade they choose, day and night...they might change their tune. It's easy to point at people when you have no idea how they do what they do.

      May 27, 2013 at 10:45 pm |
    • jon

      we have to tolerate fools like you since this is america. thanks from a teacher and veteran

      May 27, 2013 at 11:03 pm |
      • teacherandbaseballmom

        I'm fairly certain he was being sarcastic with his comment. Let's hope so, anyway!

        May 28, 2013 at 9:16 am |
  28. Rob

    What does Gov. Scott Walker (R-Wisc.) and the others in the Wisconsin GOP have to say about these teachers?

    May 27, 2013 at 10:37 pm |
    • Knghtshingrmour

      Scott would probably say that teachers in general are not paid we'll enough, but neither are those whom are taxed into poverty. When times are tuff and taxpayers are getting laid off by the hundreds of thousands and/or taking jobs at 80 percent of their past wages that teachers unions need to join in the belt tightening. They should also remove those bad teachers who molest or otherwise hinder students (like the Georgia cheeting on school test teachers). The problem is there are bad apples in any group and they need to accept removal of bad apples. I know several teachers in his state, they basically said they have to pay into their obamacare and retirement part of the amount their taxed private counter parts have to. They are not happy, but who is (save for those school board execs making 250k+). They also say that most of the protesting at the state house where used in from as far away as California and did not truly represent the in state workers. Now the budget is balanced, there are no more furloughs, businesses are returning and bringing jobs with them so like Moore Oklahoma they are on the mend.

      May 27, 2013 at 11:03 pm |
    • jvburrows

      Scott would say that they do a great job, but when unionized they get 80k a year and benefits worth almost that. They deserve a fair pay, but why raise taxes on all the harder working people of that state so the teachers can get even more benefits and then when they want to protest they walk out and leave students in the class to go protest for even more money. Those teachers are NOT heroes, they only care about money and getting rich off of it. Real heroes are those here in Moore that make around 30K and still jump on your 1st grader to save her life from a tornado....

      May 27, 2013 at 11:13 pm |
      • Mystyllyne

        Wow! I want to live where you are. 80,000 a year? Try half that! AND we still pay for school supplies out of our own pockets, have snacks in our classrooms for students who come to school hungry in the morning, supply lunch money to those who forgot or can't afford it, and spend a majority of our off time in our classrooms, correcting papers, hanging children's work, and making the learning environment more inviting. Yeah...$80,000 a year. Don't we wish!

        May 28, 2013 at 1:36 am |
      • Proud to be a Teacher...ALWAYS!

        Wow, I want to get a job in your area of the country. 80K a year...I taught for 35 years and made about 60% of that. Send me a job application, please!!!

        May 28, 2013 at 8:47 am |
  29. coaster26

    Who are the heroes of the world? Teachers. Without teachers, there wouldn't be any strategists to plan the battle for the soldier-heroes to fight in. Without teachers, we would not have the scientists and mathematicians that make so many life saving treatments and future treatments possible. Without teachers, we would not have government. (well, so maybe that's not a good example) But we would still be feudal – without teachers. Without teachers, there would not be literacy, poetry, music. Without teachers, there would not be this computer I write this on, or the one you read it on. Without teachers, many children would not have role models. Without teachers, we would be lost.

    Who are the heroes of the world? Teachers.

    But.

    They always were.

    May 27, 2013 at 10:37 pm |
    • Marie Swearingen

      Thank you.

      May 27, 2013 at 11:04 pm |
    • abbydelabbey

      absolutely

      May 27, 2013 at 11:05 pm |
  30. gniz

    Throughout the tragedies that were Connecticut and Oklahoma, no one wondered what the teachers test scores were. Perhaps they were high, and perhaps not. The point is that they cared about their children. I teach high school, and still my students are "mine". I listen to their problems and concerns, share in their victories and defeats. I pray that the talking heads
    who only look at test scores will recognize that their is so much more involved in this job

    May 27, 2013 at 10:27 pm |
  31. luvUamerica

    If only we could move 5% of the military budget to all schools. Public schools, religious schools, and private schools. None of the schools would have any problems. We just spent 300 Billion on the F35 which is never going to work. It is our priorities. What is more important?

    May 27, 2013 at 10:19 pm |
    • abbydelabbey

      I will quote Dwight D. Eisenhower WW II General and President:
      Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. The cost of one modern heavy bomber is this: a modern brick school in more than 30 cities. It is two electric power plants, each serving a town of 60,000 population. It is two fine, fully equipped hospitals. It is some 50 miles of concrete highway. We pay for a single fighter plane with a half million bushels of wheat. We pay for a single destroyer with new homes that could have housed more than 8,000 people. This, I repeat, is the best way of life to be found on the road. the world has been taking. This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron.

      May 27, 2013 at 11:09 pm |
    • jvburrows

      Well, the F35 created over 30K jobs that each of those jobs paid taxes into the local economies. Hmmmm, so if we moved the budget to education, where would those kid's parents work and pay to keep the teacher's salaries going? Plus, your forgetting that taxes into teachers and schools are from local workers in the county, NOT federal. If we allow federal to take over schools, like common core is trying to do, that isnt education, its called indocneration.

      May 27, 2013 at 11:18 pm |
      • Alan2236

        JV, common core is not "indoctrination", it's setting a common standard of excellence that all schools will have to meet. As for the F-35 program, it has nothing to do with this subject, but a 5% cut would not eliminate the program, so it's not an either/or situation. Public schools in some states are badly under-funded, and I personally would like to see each public school retro-fitted with some sort of storm shelter or safe area that could hold that school's students.

        May 28, 2013 at 1:00 am |
  32. eflows

    "You love a teacher when they’re hiding your children from a crazed gunman in Newtown and getting shot while protecting them. You adore educators when they’re using their body to shield your kids from a falling wall in the middle of a tornado in Oklahoma.

    But let that teacher have the nerve to ask for job security or reasonable pay or a manageable workload and all of a sudden we’re lazy union thugs."

    May 27, 2013 at 10:15 pm |
    • Merlin13

      Don't forget snow days and summer vacation. Parents really appreciate teachers when they grow tired and need a break from their own kids.

      May 27, 2013 at 10:24 pm |
    • Tanya

      Thank you!!!

      May 27, 2013 at 10:32 pm |
    • Rob

      God bless Scott Walker! I'm being sarcastic in case anyone was wondering.

      May 27, 2013 at 10:40 pm |
  33. Craig

    Hailed as heroes? Funny, but all I ever hear about teachers is how they're glorified babysitters that are the reasons for all the ills of this world. The sad thing is that they have to take a bullet or have a building fall on them for society to even begin to change that opinion.

    May 27, 2013 at 10:14 pm |
    • Merlin13

      If only – babysitters make $14/hr per child – Teachers : $30/hour for a group of 20-30 children. They say in business you need 36-90 hours to prepare a single presentation. Teachers prepare 3-5 presentations daily for large groups – do the follow up surveys (tests) – do the community reach out (parent contacts/reports) – and will take a bullet for their students and go out to buy fun pencils and erasers so kids will love learning – but yeah...they just are in it for the money and the glory.

      May 27, 2013 at 10:33 pm |
  34. choo

    I'd probably have used the trouble makers as shields from debris.

    May 27, 2013 at 10:06 pm |
  35. Little Things

    I'm about to retire. I've met numerous retired people from different walks who have a penchant for "boasting" about how
    they were a successful, professional "this or that" with scores under their supervision, etc., etc.. It often made me reflect
    how little I had to boast about, then realized as a teacher, myself and others in the field made small contributions to
    developing youth every single working day. So, I learned something-whether accomplished Nobel Prize winner or
    school custodian, everyone makes important contributions we'll never appreciate much unless a crisis arises and they're
    thrust into a heroic spotlight. I don't want, need or envy bragging rights in my waning years. Everybody wins-I can't
    listen to much from others and know they'll be bored to death. Always learning.

    May 27, 2013 at 9:59 pm |
    • coaster26

      As a teacher, you have plenty to boast about. You could say "I've shaped the minds of the people that will rule the world in the future. I've whispered in their ear 'I will always be there for you' because I know that while they will pass from my ken, they will meet other teachers in their life that are just like me. Just like the ones who were important to you, I will always be important to someone. Back off man, I'm a TEACHER. "

      May 27, 2013 at 10:42 pm |
    • abbydelabbey

      God bless you for your many years of service to the children. You may never know directly how you helped them, but you did. One 5th grade teacher introduced me to Shakespeare; another teacher taught me to think for myself. I could go on but there is not enough words to thank the teachers I had.

      May 27, 2013 at 11:12 pm |
  36. Merlin13

    I wish a reporter would actually research the TIMMS number that have been used to justify NCLB. I think they'd see states like Massachusetts that opted to have their score pulled out rather than included in US scores had some of the best in the world. That math scores improved by 10 points before NCLB with just the states improvements between 1995-2005. Since NCLB only 3 points. Educational consultants and test makers are making major profits. It seems the issue is a perfect storm of events. Baby boomers (with their large voting block) no longer need public education funding for their kids and don't see a need to fight for funding. Education has become the next bubble and lots of people are making money off of it. Of course we still have some of the best schools in the world – hence the need for people to come from abroad to take advantage of our free public education and special education. Schools in high poverty areas continue to struggle – go figure – I guess making it a teachers responsibility to fix the problems of an entire neighborhood might not be the best solution. So much for doing whats best for the future of the country.

    May 27, 2013 at 9:58 pm |
  37. Erle MacLean

    THIS IS ONE OF THE MOST SOUL SEARCHING ARTICLE I HAVE READ IN A LONG TIME!
    DO WE REALLY APPRECIATE OUR TEACHERS?

    May 27, 2013 at 9:56 pm |
    • wdg

      Wonderful article about teachers and their care of our children. The school districts don't support our teachers very well, nor do plenty of parents. Our daughter loves her 7th grade students and coaches softball every year. Unfortunately, because of the parents, she thinks this will be her last year coaching.

      May 27, 2013 at 10:23 pm |
  38. kobby

    really? i thought americans had forgotten about God. Let's not wait till tornadoes occur before we sing Jesus loves me. Jesus loves us always and will help us anytime we call upon him

    May 27, 2013 at 9:52 pm |
    • God

      That's a bunch of bullsh!tt

      May 27, 2013 at 10:00 pm |
    • CS

      Really? REALLY? Tell that to the seven families mourning in Moore, OK.

      May 29, 2013 at 12:40 pm |
  39. NY_guy_whoisnotafan_OK

    No AID for Oklahoma!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    They said 'No' to aid for Hurricane Sandy,So SCREW YOU,OKLAHOMA!!!!

    Plus,you're always championing ' self worth' and 'no government',so fix it yourself

    May 27, 2013 at 9:47 pm |
    • Walter

      Ah, more verbal diarrhea from a sanctimonious lib. Fine. Let's end this ridiculous charade right now. Let's just break up the "un"united states into 50 countries and be done with it.

      May 27, 2013 at 9:54 pm |
    • Mel

      The representive who represents the district Moore is part if voted FOR aid for sandy not Against it. Way to thank those who stood by you by lumping them in a politcal hole even though they stood against political pressure to do what is right. If you are goings to try to deny victims aid, the least you could do is simple google search.

      May 27, 2013 at 10:06 pm |
      • Chuck

        When Irene came thru upstate new york and caused tremendously destructive localized flooding, our Amish neighbors came down from the hillsides, from miles away, on busses that they chartered at their own expense, and helped. They shoveled mud and washed furniture and tore out wet insulation. They continue now, nearly 2 years later, to help people back into their homes with fresh floors and new cabinets and paint. They care not about a persons political affiliation or religion, just about their needs. They do not ask for anything, not a damn dime, yet their help is priceless. Doubt my word? Call someone, anyone in Schoharie, NY. Google Irene/Schoharie.

        All you sanctimonious politicizing posters could perhaps learn something. The teachers that looked after the children did so not because of politics and unions but because they cared about other souls. Let's just be thankful for that human characteristic. I can only hope that faced with the same impending doom, i can do the same. I know i can step in front of a train for my boy . . . give me the strength to the same for yours.

        I get the frustration of educators in this country. The kids "disrespect" ( when did that become a verb?) (and pull your pants up it looks ridiculous) the very individuals trying to help them. Look at their parents (or biological contributors) This country has a huge underclass determined to look every where else but at themselves for fault. And the easy ride Each and every kid in this country has the opportunity to rise above. Ask Gen. Colin Powell how he rose from Brooklyn to West Point and beyond. Handouts? Hardly. His mother cared. Cared more about him than her own immediate needs.

        Thank you to the teachers in Moore. Thank you to my kid's teachers. Leave the politics and unions outa it.

        Now go ahead and tear me apart. Dont care. AFFA

        May 27, 2013 at 11:52 pm |
    • treblehook66

      Written like a true jagoff. Their congressman said no to loading it up with for Alaska, DC, Florida, and the gulf, not aid to Sandy victims.

      May 27, 2013 at 10:17 pm |
    • Proud to be a Teacher...ALWAYS!

      This is enough drivel. This story is about teaching, education, and the dedication of teachers. Go crawl in your hole or find another story to comment on! Enough all ready.

      May 28, 2013 at 12:53 am |
  40. bankrupt1

    those kids don't look happy.

    May 27, 2013 at 9:45 pm |
    • NY_guy_whoisnotafan_OK

      I wouldn't either if I lived in Oklahoma

      May 27, 2013 at 9:48 pm |
      • Walter

        They most definitely wouldn't be happy if they were anywhere downwind of you.

        May 27, 2013 at 9:55 pm |
  41. Kirk Bennett

    No greater Love than that from a person who is willing to die for another. Teachers are, on the whole, not shown the respect they deserve. But when it comes down to it, they deserve more respect than many others regardless of the situation.

    May 27, 2013 at 7:16 pm |
  42. larper2

    No one expects an EF5 redesign the schools to provide shelter in an EF5 not a EF2.

    May 27, 2013 at 5:57 pm |
  43. Guess

    Teacher looks pretty hot after the tornado! I'll bet she can 'go' a long long time :)

    May 27, 2013 at 5:04 pm |
    • bankrupt1

      i'd kind of like to watch her put one of those cowboy boots up your a$$.

      May 27, 2013 at 9:48 pm |
    • Bob

      Happily I'm sure karma will catch up with you soon.

      May 27, 2013 at 9:48 pm |
    • bob

      really that is what you have to say after all they went thorough!

      May 28, 2013 at 1:43 pm |
  44. Jeff

    "First-grade teacher Waynel Mayes commanded her kids to sing “Jesus Loves Me” over the roar of the wind "

    Cant wait until someone sues over that, First Amendment and such...

    May 27, 2013 at 4:58 pm |
  45. MilitaryAF

    The last line under the Tornado heading: Go to your nearest shelter. Oh wait! We don't have shelters!

    May 27, 2013 at 3:18 pm |
  46. Michael

    I'm from Oklahoma City I live a few miles north of the damage path. I read in this article that the school superintendent said that money is an obstacle...well the schools were told that when Oklahoma got the lottery some of that money from the lottery would go to the schools and around 10 years we passed a sales tax called maps for kids that money is to go to the schools. So where is the money going?

    May 27, 2013 at 3:01 pm |
    • abbydelabbey

      into the hands of the politicians who care naught ....

      May 27, 2013 at 11:13 pm |
  47. farmer joe

    Who besides an Okie would have even thought to wear cowboy boots with a dress?

    May 27, 2013 at 2:24 pm |
    • DavidNTexas

      I personally find it extremely attractive when its done with taste.

      May 27, 2013 at 4:28 pm |
      • Bob

        I'm assuming you don't really live in Texas or you wouldn't ask such a stupid question.

        May 27, 2013 at 9:50 pm |
      • farmer joe

        Ok you've got me there,

        May 27, 2013 at 11:25 pm |
    • Sharon

      Thanks you made it clear to the world that you are a hateful jerk keep up the work. Your mother must be extremely proud!

      May 28, 2013 at 3:23 am |
  48. Jenn!

    Thank you Teacher's!!! I could not imagine what they went through. Good Grief what makes a different what they said or screamed as long as the kids were safe!!! Read the article again they did not force anyone to say anything!!

    May 27, 2013 at 1:23 pm |
    • June

      Thank you!! Well said! Let's stick to the real story – the teachers that were willing and ready to make the ultimate sacrifice!! And the bravery and LOVE that they showed!!!

      May 27, 2013 at 1:35 pm |
  49. Jeff Lebowski

    The whole world is just f-d. Unbelievable.

    May 27, 2013 at 10:23 am |
  50. Good-Grief

    Why in the world are these teachers leading public school students in PRAYER? This is infuriating. I thought we had solved the separation of fairy tales/school thing and here we have it again, with teachers themselves - role models - leading children, impressionable children, in prayers, even screaming. And we want these nut jobs as our teachers? To the best of my knowledge, this is a violation of the law. We need to enforce it.

    May 27, 2013 at 10:12 am |
    • Jay

      I'll pray for you...

      May 27, 2013 at 10:28 am |
    • Carol

      I will pray for you.

      May 27, 2013 at 11:13 am |
      • Good-Grief

        Why? You could write a letter to Santa Claus, too. You need to keep in mind that atheists attend public schools, alongside theists. Aetheist parents have rights, too. And one of those rights is that I don't want my children being forced to sing silly songs to a God that I teach them is human-kinds answer to all of their weaknesses..that does not exist except in imaginations run wild. Why should my children be forced to do this?? Or, if not forced, persuaded in a peer-pressure situation with an adult that they respect. There's a million songs they could have sang. It really ticks me off that we still have this "stuff" happening when I thought we had effectively squashed it.

        May 27, 2013 at 11:38 am |
      • Jacob

        So in a time of pressure that requires quick thought and decision-making tos ave your child, you want the teachers to stop and wonder whether or not their actions will offend YOU?

        Get over yourself.

        May 27, 2013 at 12:20 pm |
    • June

      Really? These women protected these small children and were willing to sacrifice their lives for them, and your complaint is that the prayed?! Would you feel the same way if it was one of YOUR children in that school that day?!?! I wouldn't care if they sang Puff the Magic Dragon! The point was that these teachers protected the children!!! They were willing to give their lives for them! How many people do you know that would have done the same thing? You missed the entire point! Was it also wrong and horrible of the teacher that told her students that she loved them before that tornado hit and killed some of their classmates? We should be more thankful and praise teachers for all that they do for our children, not constantly criticize!

      May 27, 2013 at 12:00 pm |
      • Good-Grief

        I would not have cared if they had sang Puff the Magic Dragon, either. That would have been fine. You would understand if you walked in my shoes. It is infuriating to teach one thing at home and then have a society forcing some wacky thoughts into their heads. In the midst of horror, I applaud the teachers for protecting the children but they are teachers - of all students. And if mine had been forced to sing a prayer (of all things) in the midst of tragedy, it only adds insult to what is already horrible. I just wish they would remember that they are employees who have agreed to certain conduct when they are with students.

        May 27, 2013 at 12:04 pm |
      • coaster26

        Leading a group of terrified children in song does not equal forcing them to sing. You think she held a sharpened pencil to their necks and told them to sing away the tornado or else? I would guess that this is a religious community and the teacher chose a song she knew all the children would remember the words to because they learned them in church – a calm place. A song everyone knows, has heard since they were babies, and reminds them of calm things.

        When a person saves the lives of children by shielding them with their own body, you really should not be chastising them for the words they happen to scream while they do it.

        May 27, 2013 at 10:24 pm |
    • Jacob

      Are you serious? That's what you took from this article? Stop reading with an agenda. It was a time of crisis and those teachers were turning to something to comfort the children and themselves. Get over it.

      May 27, 2013 at 12:18 pm |
    • Mike

      I would like to see what you would do with a 2-mile wide EF-5 bearing down on you. The teachers did the right thing and, if you don't like it, stay away from schools during a violent storm.

      May 27, 2013 at 12:38 pm |
      • CEG

        I bet this guy would start praying like mad if he was facing death in the eye. Atheists tend to turn to foxhole prayers when confronted. Arrogance and the belief that man is almighty is easy to squash with an EF.5

        May 27, 2013 at 10:10 pm |
    • ALW

      Normally I would agree with you. I am all for the separation of church and state and find it necessary in order to effectively run our schools with as little bias as possible. However, in the moments before this massive force of destruction, what those teachers said is the least of my concerns. Would you have been happier if they had dropped a dozen F-bombs in front of those already traumatized ears?

      In times of crisis people turn to their faith, to their own foundation in order to maintain a strong facade. I won't fault those teachers for staying calm and helping those students survive in any way they saw fit.

      Respectfully,
      A full-fledged proud
      agnostic

      May 27, 2013 at 12:49 pm |
      • Jacob

        A vioce of reason. Well-said, ALW.

        May 27, 2013 at 12:52 pm |
      • June

        It moved me to tears that those teachers were willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for their students! How many people would do the same? Thank you ALW...

        May 27, 2013 at 1:01 pm |
    • June

      I agree that I am not in your shoes, and I CAN imagine how infuriating it must be to you. I am originally from the Northwest and currently live in one of the most conservative states. I am very open minded and considered very liberal here. While I have found some people who share my beliefs, many people have criticized me because I am not a conservative, Baptist church member. Many people just consider me as weird! But I stand firm in my beliefs and hope that my children will do the same, whether they share my beliefs or not. I am not atheist, but my conception of a higher power is NOT what most people believe here! My main point was that the teachers were protecting the children and trying to distract them. Let us put aside political and religious beliefs and focus on the teachers! They are human as we all are. But they have chosen one of the hardest jobs in our country right now. They are constantly criticized and belittled. The teachers that work with my son, in the best public school in this state, surprised & amazed me. They love and truly care about my son, in a way that I never thought possible! And I know that they will sacrifice their lives for him if it ever came to that. I do not care if in a crisis they talk to him about God or Muhammed or whomever!! Because of them, I see a confidence in my son that he never had before! YOU are raising your children and teaching them your beliefs. While teachers have a huge impact on our children, in the long run, the LARGEST impact on our lives is our parents and the love and lessons that they teach us!!! The MOST influential person in my 35 years has been and always will be my mother! Even though I didn't see that for a few years!

      May 27, 2013 at 12:53 pm |
      • Jenn1

        Well said!!

        May 27, 2013 at 1:26 pm |
      • jabber

        Retired teacher says to Good Grief: "I would protect your children with my last breath" even if you are a jerk.Good comment June, Jesse, and midvie132. I know exactly how you feel.

        May 27, 2013 at 10:24 pm |
      • Ras

        i am practicing Muslim women, we believe in one god. In situation like I dont care what teachers did and say, All I care that how they saved my kids life. And I should be Thankful to them rest of my life. I have two kids and they go to school. I feel like without their teacher i would be lost. May god bless all the teachers for protecting and teaching our Kids.

        May 27, 2013 at 11:12 pm |
    • DanieS

      What you need to focus on is that this school was in Oklahoma. They do things differently.
      If you have a problem with religion mixing with government then do not live in Oklahoma. It may be against the law but you got to find a judge who will allow such a "petty" complaint in their court room. Many schools welcome church funding for many things because they need the money, the catch is that they allow the church to hold a bible study there for the kids. The schools need the money because the state funding is 49th in the US. The state has less than 4 million people and its biggest city (Oklahoma City) has about a half million.
      SO, yeah, in any other place you point would be valid, but Oklahoma is like going back in time. There are still people living in log cabin type homes that have no indoor plumbing, no electricity and no real road to their house. If you don't live in a large town, your only source of internet is through satellite (which insanely expensive) and over half of the state's population lives in rural areas.

      May 27, 2013 at 12:55 pm |
      • Okiejo

        Youre an idiot. A stereotype pushing idiot. See I live here and I just have to say...i gots me an edjeecation reel plumb on thru that there u-niversity. Dang golly i even gots running water and lectric lights.

        Really? Do you know what state University leads the nation in Rhodes scholars? Do you even know what that means?

        Yes there are people living in poverty in Oklahoma, but I somehow doubt that this is the only place on earth that has impoverished families.

        May 27, 2013 at 11:48 pm |
      • okrungirl

        You're joking right? Have you ever been to Oklahoma? Our TeePees and Log Cabins are in the museums my friend, we're just as modernized as any other state.

        May 28, 2013 at 10:57 pm |
    • Jen

      I am agnostic. Though I may not have thought about God when a tornado went through, I applaud what the teachers were doing to keep the kids focused on something positive. Atheists don't need to believe in God, but they should focus on the positive every once in a while. There's a difference between disbelief and pure hatred.

      May 27, 2013 at 1:29 pm |
    • Tracy

      Well, the next time a tornado is literally blowing up your childs school or any other major crisis and the teacher literally saves his life, saves you from having to bury your child, saves you from spending the rest of your life wondering what your child "would have" grown up to be like, and you get the chance to thank said teacher, I recommend not complaining that she chose a song to sing that was not within your beliefs while she was being impaled and eventually losing her leg to protect her students.

      May 27, 2013 at 1:45 pm |
    • realtorscott

      To paraphrase: "there are probably no atheists in tornadoes." Just like there are none in foxholes. I would have talked to Jesus, Buddha, The Great Sprit, my late Uncle Fred, or whomever else came into my head. Go sue somebody.

      May 27, 2013 at 2:33 pm |
      • jabber

        Thanks and I agree. I even went to the cemetery and talked to my Dad today (Memorial Day). I'd like to believe he heard me but......who knows? He was a WWII vet with 308 days on the front lines and spent the next 45 plus years drinking. That didn't stop me from loving him. These teachers have a lot of courage but also will have a lot to live with the rest of their lives. The idiots that worry about what was or wasn't said (sang) should be ashamed for even typing the co9mments on their computer. Just be glad a lot of children's lives were saved and pity those families that lost a loved one.

        May 27, 2013 at 10:33 pm |
    • stever

      You need to get your head screwed on straight.

      May 27, 2013 at 4:06 pm |
    • Razorback

      Troll.

      May 27, 2013 at 5:57 pm |
    • Kirk Bennett

      To Good-Grief. It is because of people like you that our world is so screwed. Only a lowlife would reply like you did. Go eat your veggie burger and shut up.

      May 27, 2013 at 7:19 pm |
    • Portland tony

      Kids, let alone adults, don't have time for rational thought when placed under the plummeting force of an EF-5 tornado. Get some understanding!

      May 27, 2013 at 8:58 pm |
    • Bob

      You know you are welcome to stop by anytime and explain your beliefs to the good people of Oklahoma. I'm sure they will be happy to hear everything you've got to say. Of course, you can be a typical coward and hide behind a fake name.

      May 27, 2013 at 9:51 pm |
    • Lori from Kansas

      I would not care if she were catholic jewish atheist baptist protestant Buddhist or a freaking satan worshipper, that woman took those kids and did what she felt she could do in a split second to ease their fears and get them through this tragic episode of nature. If your so worried about it HOME SCHOOL!!

      May 27, 2013 at 9:59 pm |
    • A BELIEVER IN GOD ALMIGHTY

      You can't "squash" God Almighty. He still loves you, one of his creations, and wants you to have a loving relationship with Him. Nothing you can post will convince me otherwise. God gave those teachers love for children (yours, too) and the courage to act in a manner to save as many as possible. Who else to turn to and think about than the Creator of all universes?

      May 27, 2013 at 10:43 pm |
    • Jeff

      I hope you are one day in a situation where you have nobody to call on for sympathy, assistance, love, encouragement, protection, etc. except for God/Jesus. When you are in that situation, come back and talk about your "Atheism" and we will see if you feel the same way.

      May 27, 2013 at 10:49 pm |
      • Greg

        Good point!

        May 27, 2013 at 10:55 pm |
    • m

      My guess is that you have never been through a major tornado- or any other "kiss your ass good bye" situation. Otherwise, you would not have such an obtuse perspective.

      May 27, 2013 at 10:54 pm |
    • Chad

      Agreed. The principal of the school actually SHOUTING at an EF5 tornado, "In God's name, go away!!!" is just profoundly distressing to me. Tornadoes always, ALWAYS "go away" all on their own. Literally 100% of the time. Have you ever heard of a tornado that lasts forever? Or even a really long time (like hours)? Of course not. They form, they rumble along, they dissipate, often in a matter of minutes. There is no god directing the tornado... this is just abject silliness. But because of this school principal shrieking religious invocations at a tornado that - of its own accord - moved on moments later - young children might think that "God" made the tornado go away. Ugh. The cycle of delusion continues.

      May 27, 2013 at 10:58 pm |
      • Alan2236

        Chad, lighten up! I'm not religious but it is very understandable why she yelled that at that particular moment. I'm a teacher in Oklahoma, and I can assure you that religion is NOT promoted in public schools here. This was a life-and-death situation.

        May 28, 2013 at 12:44 am |
      • Sharon

        Chad,
        The sick, sad world you live in breaks my heart. The day you realize God is the creator of all you will be so ashamed of your words. You will want to praise God and hug the Elementary staff for their prayers. The good news is the Lord has already forgiven you for your hate filled rant. The bad news is I am praying for you and you are not wise enough yet to understand the worth of a glorious prayer. Open your eyes my friend God is with you and will always hold you close.

        May 28, 2013 at 3:01 am |
      • Idiot Above

        Oh, just shut up sharon.

        May 28, 2013 at 12:37 pm |
    • Beth

      These women were probably freaking out and thought they were all about to die. Would you really suggest suing them?

      May 27, 2013 at 11:14 pm |
    • abbydelabbey

      Have you ever heard the expression "there are no athiests in foxholes?" Ever wonder why?

      May I suggest that instead of complaining be grateful for teachers doing whatever they could to distract children from the terrors they confronted.

      And get a life ....

      May 27, 2013 at 11:15 pm |
  51. Steve S

    But....but....but....are teachers, public employee leeches, sucking up our tax dollars???

    At least, according to the GOP/Tea Party members, they are.........................................

    May 27, 2013 at 9:46 am |
    • Mike

      Well, there you go. If you go far enough to the right you blame teachers for stealing tax dollars. We all know the party of the rich does not like that.

      May 27, 2013 at 12:40 pm |
    • Bob

      The teachers are in general, wonderful. The teachers unions are blood sucking parasites, yes.

      May 27, 2013 at 10:54 pm |
  52. rino

    The Weasel Walker from Wisconsin started this trend of teacher bashing, but we went along.

    May 27, 2013 at 9:40 am |
    • fx4

      IN Gov Mitch Daniels was right there with Walker...and now he's make like 350K as president of Purdue, appointed by people he appointed...now let's see if he can ruin one of the state's most prestigious public universities!

      May 27, 2013 at 10:41 am |
  53. MollyBee

    It would do us well to remember that these heroes are the same teachers that have so recently been villified as "thugs" and "drains on the economy" by the GOP, Tea Party, so-called "conservative PACs and their right hand pimp, F_X. Let's hope all of America recognizes the inherent evil in pitting Americans against Americans in order to achieve control.

    May 27, 2013 at 9:14 am |
  54. midview132

    I understand your concern Jesse. I am a teacher too and the longer I teach the more I see students who are detached from learning and the importance of it. The saddest thing about it all is no matter how much time and effort that you put in to it, it all comes down to the drive and desire of the student to learn. Sadly however, I live in Ohio and our current governor and legislation believe that the biggest problem with our schools are the teachers. The thought is if you reward good teacher everything will get better, however it turns in to we will punish teachers who's students score low on state tests. The missing element is the whole fact that until the student has motivation to learn you can never make anyone learn anything they do not want to. My whole argument has been that your reward students with $500 reward for passing all their state tests every year. Then the parents will push their child instead of enabling them, and then when the student comes home and has to tell their parent that they didn't receive their bonus for the year then the student has to own it. What do we do instead? As American parents we still buy our children everything they want even though they perform average because it makes us feel better about ourselves and it pacifies our children and they dont bother us, as teachers we have to deal with the other side of that equation which means the student expects to get good grades for mediocre performance and if they dont get it they will complain and worse yet the student knows if they perform poorly on the test the teacher will get punished. Letting the inmates run the asylum has never been a good proposition so this merit pay nonsense will never work once the kids realize they are in charge.

    May 27, 2013 at 8:22 am |
  55. Jesse

    As a teacher, it feels good to read something like this, however, I often share the sentiments of the quoted teacher who said he would walk through fire for his students, but wonders why aren't they holding up their end. I honestly have these feelings nearly every day. Not because I save anyone from gunmen, but just because I consistently put in 12 hour days, but yet can hardly get any students to even look at me during lessons – let alone put any effort into the actual subject.

    May 27, 2013 at 7:45 am |