Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Paying Attention in Class Saved Family’s Life

Wednesday, June 1 was like most end-of-the-school-year days. The classroom was hot and stuffy, as was the air outside, thick and heavy with moisture…telltale signs of a storm brewing. Nothing about the day seemed out of the ordinary. Strong thunderstorms are not uncommon when hot, moist air co-mingles with a cold front. It was just a typical New England spring weather day.

Nearing the end of the school day, the 3rd grade teachers in 9-year-old Megan Frisella’s class had completed the day’s lesson plan. Being conscientious teachers, they opted to introduce a new lesson and selected a study plan about wind. In the remaining minutes of class that day, Megan and her classmates learned about the power of wind to foster energy, and they learned about the dangers of wind in hurricanes and tornadoes. Little did anyone know — or even conceive of the probability — that this last minute lesson would save a family’s life.

A few hours after Megan returned home from school Amy Frisella, Megan’s mother, heard that a tornado may be headed for their hometown of Sturbridge, MA. Megan spoke up and told her mother, “My teacher said you got to get away from the windows and go to a safe room.”

Now, the last tornado to hit in Central Massachusetts occurred in 1953, and so Megan’s mom was bracing for nothing more than a severe thunderstorm. However, having listened to her daughter talk about what she learned in school, Amy decided to treat the situation like a fire drill.

She took Megan and Megan’s 6-year-old sister Hailey, their 2 cats and the hamster, to the “safe room” in the basement where there were no windows, just as Megan had been taught. Less than a minute later, the house shook.

“It was just like a movie,” said Megan’s mom. “It sounded like a train.” Twenty seconds later, covered in soot, the Frisella’s emerged from the basement to discover their home had been severely damaged by a tornado.

The Frisella family is alive and unharmed today because of several factors…teachers who embraced their role as educators, who taught an extra lesson rather than blowing off the remaining minutes of the class period; a young girl who paid attention in class and who listened to her teachers; a parent who listened to her child and who recognized the value of a teachable moment.

At KidsTerrain, we believe that children, families, and teachers are life's greatest treasures. And we believe in the value of listening and talking to kids. On Wednesday, June 6, teachers talked, a child listened, a child talked, a parent listened, and a family’s life was saved.

Written for KidsTerrain, Inc. Reprinted here with permission.

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