An Open Letter to All in Viking Nation:
I was reflecting on my drive home today about my school day, which ended with a staff meeting concerning the passing of a PHS student, and then our athletic signing. I have to admit, learning the previous evening of another loss had me thinking from the standpoint of “not again.” That was my thought as a couple of graduates texted me asking what were the details. I could not provide any, but after seeing some postings on facebook, I had the sinking feeling of “here we go again.” Then I caught myself and realized that each situation is different, for each family and each time we go through this. I am not sure if there is a manual or an exact science to address grieving students, but I feel like each time is a first for me because it is always different. But I feel I learn from each situation.
I did not know Keondre, but I do have his sister in class. I did not get to see her today, so I will hope she attends class tomorrow but will understand if she prefers other areas/people for comfort. Watching our 10th graders in my classes today just shows the resiliency of their class and all students in the Princeton district. Yes, my class kind of conducted “class as usual”, but it was not usual. Young men and women were quiet, small tears running down their cheeks, heads down just staring into space involved in their own thoughts somewhere, but not one………and I mean not one, stopped doing their classwork. It was amazing to watch and see this go on. Answering questions, quietly working on their notes or problems. It was totally humbling to me to watch this. Today, despite the circumstances, the students pushed through. Completely amazing.
At times I am asked why I teach, and I reply that it started early in my life for wanting “to teach and coach”. I am also asked about how can I do it day after day after day? I just say, “I dunno. I just do my thing.” I know throughout our high school and in every building of our district, all of the teachers “just do their thing.” We may never know how deeply we really touch our student’s lives, but on a day when………young men and women were quiet, small tears running down their cheeks, heads down just staring into space involved in their own thoughts somewhere, but they did not stop working……..each one of us may see a small glimpse of the difference we make on them. Or the difference they make on us.
Rest In Peace Keondre Patterson,
Hail to a Fallen Viking – 24/7 Princeton Pride.
PHS Math Teacher