Severe Weather: More Stories

More stories from readers about severe weather plans and preparations.

| March/April 2011

Teacher’s Classroom Remodeled

During a 28-year teaching career, I had six different classrooms. However, when I think of “my classroom,” it is always the little room on the third floor of an old school in Sutherland, Iowa. 

The room was too small, and the closet and storage spaces were inadequate, but the row of windows made it special. The windows were the large kind designed to let in plenty of light, and there were three on the east wall and four on the north. 

Directly outside the north windows was a huge maple tree. In the spring, my students and I watched the birds and butterflies land and/or flit through the branches and squirrels scamper through the limbs. As fall approached, we watched the leaves turn to shades of red, gold and brown. Snow and frost would decorate the skeletal branches in winter, but even on dreary days, the sight was beautiful. 

For most of the 16 years I occupied that room, those north windows allowed the outdoors to come into the room. 

One day, however, I had to draw the shades on the north windows. The breezes that often made the branches tap or slide across the windowpanes changed from a welcome sound to a frightening sound. Because of gale force winds, I feared the glass could break and threaten my students. I had just closed the shades when the tornado siren ripped through the building. 

We descended three flights of stairs to take shelter. As I looked around at all the students, I knew we were in the safest place possible, but I couldn’t help thinking that a three-story brick building was above us, and I wondered if any place was really safe.  

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