Another thing I like about having taught in the same school for so long is the number of siblings of former students I get to have in my class. This year is a bumper crop. I have a number of kids whose brothers and sisters are in 7th grade, 8th grade, or high school, and it's fun to use the inside knowledge I remember of their families to build relationships today. A friendly face and a familiar word go a long way when you're a stranger in a strange place.
I think the farthest the family ties go back is to 2001. I have the brother of a student who was actually sitting in my classroom during the attacks on September 11, 2001. Our school is about two miles from the Pentagon, and we all heard the explosions when the plane made impact. Obviously, it's a day I will never forget.
But the kids we have now were infants then. They have no memory of a pre-9-11 world, but nor do they have any memory of that day. To them, the events of that day will be history that they must make sense of in the context of what they hear, what they read, and what they learn.
That day was one of the dividing lines in history. Like President Kennedy's assassination, WW II, the Great Depression, there are events that shape and separate us, sometimes by century, and sometimes by generation, and as a long-time teacher, that well-earned truth, like the events of 9-11, is something that I'll keep with me.