Posted in Community, Inspiration, Trauma

Teachers: Non-Stop Responders

In Redding, CA, we have lived, breathed, and strategized the devastating Carr fire for the past two weeks.  Approximately 1100 homes are gone and eight people lost their lives.  Now it’s time to start the long clean-up process.

My friend and I were having breakfast yesterday when a group of firefighters came into the restaurant  At the register, we decided to pay their bill as a thank you for all their efforts in saving so many lives and properties.  Someone else had already beaten us to it!

That’s how it is around here, and I love how the community has come together through this crisis.  Soooo many signs of gratitude everywhere – people just can’t show their appreciation enough for the firefighters and other first responders.

I am so thankful for the thousands of emergency personnel who have come from far and wide to help us through this disaster.  But now the clean-up really begins.

As I think about all the “after effects” this fire has caused and will continue to cause, there are two types of clean-up: physical and emotional.  This effort will come from heroes who are largely unsung and unrecognizable.  They wear no uniforms and drive no sirened vehicles.

I call these people Non-Stop Responders.  Included among them are teachers.

Our kids are going to need extra help as they head back to school.  Some will need to replace all their possessions and find a safe place to live.  Others will need school supplies or clean clothes.  That’s the physical side.  But on the emotional side – all our kids will need time to process the loss and devastation we’ve experienced as a community.

A teacher’s job was already difficult before the fire.  Now we’ve added children who have no home who might be living with another family.  We’ve added children who were displaced for days and when they got back to their homes, they found loss in the form of ruined food, stinky rooms, and toys that needed to be thrown away.

Even for those who weren’t affected this time, insecurity swirls in young minds as they wonder if and when such a thing might happen again.  And then there’s the smoke that hangs heavy over the area, changing routines (think inside recess) and causing more worry for parents.

How can we help?  There are many practical ways we can be part of the movement to celebrate our non-stop responders.

  • The first and most important is recognition. The expectations are high for our teachers.  They are expected to care for our children physically, emotionally, and mentally, spend their own money to buy needed supplies for the classroom, arrive early and stay late, handle ever-increasing class sizes, attend countless professional development meetings to learn the latest ideas, work to obtain deep knowledge of the curriculum, teach values and manners, communicate with parents who are not always gracious, answer emails promptly, try to do what’s best for each child……you could probably add to the list.

Teaching is a stressful career.  Yes, teachers choose it willingly, but let’s acknowledge the difficulty of the job they do.   Let them know with a thank you and a smile.  More ideas:

  • Volunteer to help, which doesn’t always mean in the classroom. It could be preparing class materials at home, baking, doing a school project on the weekend, such as painting or weeding, or helping with a special event, such as a carnival.
  • Wouldn’t it be amazing to gift teachers with a special pin they could wear so we, the public, could thank them for their service? They are serving their county and community and certainly deserve our thanks.
  • How about donating needed supplies for the classroom?
  • A gift card for a dinner out that they can give to a family in need, or a small gift certificate, lunch coupons, etc. are always appreciated.
  • Find a plant to brighten the classroom.

(If you’re unsure if something is appropriate, check with the principal first.)

I hope you’ll join me in this campaign to honor our non-stop responders, who just happen to have one of the most important jobs in the world – giving their best for OUR children.


I’m an educational consultant for teachers, administrators, and parents with 40+ years experience in the classroom as a teacher and decades of experience training teachers. I help teachers do what they do better. I help administrators retain the best teachers. And I help parents understand their children and their individual educational needs.

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