Friday, May 31, 2013

Korean Homework: Part Two

My first observation about "The Koreans" is that it was published in 1998.  Additionally, the author is British rather than Korean.  While an outside perspective can be a good way to explore a country's history and culture, the is the strong chance that such analysis will be clouded in bias regardless of the author's intent.  Thus, I am approaching the text with an understanding that the bias of time and of culture may obscure a full understanding of the Korean people as relayed by this work.  I'm sure a similar caveat is appropriate for my travel guide book as well as current events articles I may be reading.

"The Three Miracles"
➡Contradiction is a term which can help describe Koreans.  They are both forthright and obscure at the same time.  It can be difficult to truly know if they are 1) telling you what they think or 2) telling you what they think you want to hear.  Great flaming emotion is combined with an extreme sense of etiquette.  They ascribe to collectivist ideas but are, perhaps, the most individualistic of the East Asians.  They pursue status and titles but these are more of a guide to behavior and not a source of ultimate worth.
➡While Korea may be hard to read on a "day-to-day" basis, when viewed over the long-haul its issues are both simple and definable.
➡Much of the Korean story is one of trying to recover a lost national identity.  Following WWII and half a century of Japanes domination, there existed a sense of worthlessness.  Additionally, being a "divided" people (North & South) there have emerged two primary alternate paths to help define what it means to be "Korean".
➡At least for the South, "democracy" has become a key ingredient to national identity.  Former President Kim Dae-Jung articulated: "Culture is not necessarily our destiny, democracy is."
➡The growth which occurred in the South following the 1950s war was led by small groups of elites in politics, business, and the military.  A byproduct of elite control has been the stifling of creativity within society.  Changes are coming (many since publication of this book) which are expanding the role of the individual within society.
➡A comparison is made between the Koreans and Irish: a divided people often noted by hatred/violence with other side, lyrical people inclined to the spiritual which belies violent image, can be unrestrained in passions and be quick to both laugh and cry.
➡Law is not as important in constraining behavior as is the need to be accepted by peers--this is crucial for survival.
➡Korean growth is a manifestation of a determination not to remain in the grip of self-doubt and poverty.
➡Author's defined "three miracles": 1) 1960's military revolution gave spirit of hard work and collective purpose, 2) 1980's expansion of democratic ideals whic accompanied the economic growth, and 3) the "eventual" reunification of North and South.

"Image and Identity"
➡Common first responces when westerners were asked their thoughts about "Korea":
▶From those who read traditional newspapers: divided, violent, military, grim, war, corrupts, Olympics, World Cup, MASH, cars
▶From those who read tabloids: communist, starving, dog-eating, soccer, cars, sex industry, Mao Tse-ting, tropical, grass skirts
▶Obviously not much is known, and what is known is either simplistic and/or overwhelmingly negative.
➡Biggest obstacle to understanding Koreans is their nationalism. They uses image of a frog in a well to explain their parochialism: all the frog knows of the outside world is the distant patch of sky at the top of the well; its reality is what happens inside the well where he lives.  North Koreans often believe that Kim Il-sung is the most famous leader in the history of the world; South Korean intellectuals theorize that the history of the 20th century is a deliberate plot against Korea.

"Korean Heart"
➡Korea, like Scotland, is three-parts coastline and has a lot of dramatic mountains squeezed up from its shores.  This beauty, however, is made less accessible by the local ideas of tourism.
➡South Korea is the 5th most densely populated country; 70% of its land is uninhabitable mountain, thus a tendency to crowd into cities.
➡Koreans live in the "here and now" and take little genuine pride in their long and remarkably well documented history; they would prefer to take you to a Samsung Electronic plant than an ancient Budhist temple.  Author gives example of western tourism reporter who noted that Doksu Palace on Seoul is pitch black at night, not flood lights to highlight it, "Can you imagine any other major capital city in the world which hides its most historic sites like this?"
➡Korean education system is not based on analytic/empirical approach (build theory, research, modify theory, adjust significance of information) of the West.  Koreans are just taught facts; questioning and analyzing of such is considered an insult to the teacher.  It is not necessarily true that Koreans DELIBERATELY conceal information; the systems, thought process, and felt need may not exist to analyze/store information in the the way the West accepts it.  Korea's history is full of drama, but a tourist is more likely to leave a palace knowing how many tiles are in the roof than hearing the details of the past.
▶My aside: unfortunately much of this "just the facts" mentality has snuck into American educational systems.  Reform movements often blame the "testing" phenomenon for this.  Many are working hard to insure that students aren't simply learning facts but also learning how to make meaning of those facts.
➡The way a people think obviously affects everything.  The fact that Korea's current education system fails to meet Korea's modern needs is because it doesn't train people to think in a sufficiently rational and legalistic way.  I.E. the disputes over the Lioncourt Rocks (aka Dok-do to Koreans and Takeshima by Japanese), arguments grounded in history are not used by Koreans rather they use emotional nationalism-based pleas.
➡Individually, Koreans are sweet and decent.  It is when referring to the collective when analysts reach for the negatives.
➡Ceremony is highly important aspect of Korean culture and helps to serve as a process of relabeling or rebranding your identity.  Ceremonies help to make closures on the past, reinvent themselves, and move forward.  In their hierarchical society based on relationships, one's rank or label is vital.  The name card is more important than what you actually do.
▶My aside: perhaps this is part of why there is such a strong emphasis on business cards distributed amongst professional relationships.
➡Koreans are so focused on building relationships that they will rarely pursue activities which are accomplished solo (i.e. reading) and will alter plans at a moments notice so as to nurture a friendship.
➡Although Westerners consider East Asians more conservative and Westerners more liberal, many Koreans are much more accepting and embracing of differences.  The author suggests this is due to their Confusion influence that they seek harmonious relationships, whereas the Christian and law-based Western culture is more concerned with issues of right and wrong or good and evil.
➡Koreans are only beginning to develop the democratic attitudes and institutions to resolve conflict (remember this was published in 1998) whereas power and being louder was sound negotiating strategy.
➡Koreans can be remarkable rational and calculating on issues which Westerners tend to consider emotion, like selection of marriage partners.  Matchmakers are still widely used.

"Shaman Under the Skin"
➡Between 1/4 to 1/3 are Buddhists, 1/4 are Christian, several thousand Muslims, and the rest are connected to Shamanism or Confucianism (hard to quantify the last two due to lack of exclusive worship practice for identification purposes)
➡Koreans are Korean first. They take the system of a religion and make it their own.  When examining this "Korean-ness" you find that the values of all the religions which have influenced Korea exist within the Korean mind.  Each has deposited its sediment.
▶The Zen Buddhist concept of no past and no future, just a constantly flowing present can be seen within the immediacy and impatience of Koreans of all faiths.
▶Yoido Full Gospel Curch (Christian) has a simple appeal: accept Jesus and guarantee your health and wealth.  Both top public opinion polls on what Koreans most worry about.
▶Taoist ethos of "the way that can be discussed is not the way" figures in Korean attitudes.
▶Confucian precepts which emphasize vertically ordered human relationships have shaped Korean thinking and organization for centuries; much stronger so than in either China or Japan.
▶Shamanism held that humans existed as notes in nature's rhythmic tune; we are here before we are born and will be here after we die.
➡Intense messianism has created multiple fringe religious.  The most internationally known is the Unification Church of Rev. Moon Sun-myung.  Moon's view of God is quintessentially Korean in that he combined shamanist passions and Confuscian family pattern in a Christian form.
➡Shamanism is still widely practiced with modern shamans performing rituals of chant and dance to invoke various gods to exorcise evil spirits.
➡There are thousands of fortune tellers of various faiths or mixtures of faith.  This can be big business, especially for those tellers who get some of their predictions right.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Korean Homework: Part One

In case you missed my posting in April titled "South Korea is a 'Go-Go'!" please know that I am preparing for an exciting trip to the Korean peninsula in late June through early July.  One of our pre-trip assignments is to do some background reading in Korean history and culture.  While a bibliography of suggested readings was sent to each of the 40 teachers traveling from the USA to Korea, we were allowed to make our own selections, including off the list.  In addition to simply completing the readings were also asked to prepare summaries of these readings.

Due in part to 1) end of school year projects, 2) the events surrounding the tornado which hit my school district on the afternoon of May 20th, and, probably the most truthful reason, 3) procrastination on my part, I haven't completed as much of my reading as I would have hoped.  But never fear!  I'll be traveling to the annual essay scoring session for the AP United States History exam tomorrow and can get lots of it accomplished in transit :-)  The two "books" I've selected are noted below; there will also be a couple of articles I've found which I'll reflect on as well.  I'll be posting my summaries and reflections in subsequent "Korean Homework" entries.


Tornado: Part Seven

The enormity of the devastation and the overwhelming feelings associated by the clean-up are enough to wear anyone down.  Combine all of that with the waiting for insurance findings/reports and FEMA paperwork and funerals to attend for friends/families and work responsibilities and and and heart continues to break for those who have been directly impacted by this tragedy.

In the face of all of this tragedy I find myself  being worn down by thoughts of why them and not me?  I have still have a school to go to (granted its lack of electricity, phones, and internet have complicated the post-school work expected at the end of the year) and yet my colleagues at our neighboring schools of of Briarwood and Plaza Towers do not.  I have an intact home to go to (with power, TV and air conditioning) and yet so many of my students, friends, and co-workers don't.  My faith gets somewhat shaken by people who say something about being blessed it didn't get their home or school or that their being spared was by the "grace of God".  Those thoughts sicken me because it implies, intentionally or not, that God withheld his blessings and/or grace from others.  I know tragedies, especially weather related ones, impact people of all walks of life without regarding to race, ethnicity, citizenship, faith, creed, gender, sexual orientation, physical abilities, education level, socio-economic level, etc.  But I still am troubled with why was I able to escape such because I'd gladly have endured this to help even one of my students escape this suffering.

It is in this sense of being overwhelmed by everything surround the tornado that I have been thankful for the opportunities to escape the focus of the tragedy.
  •  I was invited to a graduation party for one of my seniors (Sarah); while already planning to attend there was no way I was going to let the tornado's aftermath keep me from the party...I needed cake!
  • Saturday's activities surrounded Southmoore's 5th annual Graduation and I was so thankful for an awesome celebration to help destract our community, even for just a brief moment, from the devastation 10 miles further south.  Congratulations SaberCat Class of 2013
  • Saturday night allowed me the chance to attend another graduation party for another student (Hunter).  The interaction with his family and friends was just a great way to focus on life's blessings.  The food was awesome and...more cake too!
  • Sunday evening, my good friend and colleague from another school district (Christine) hosted a dinner at her house.  It was so great to be able to join in a relaxed evening and just enjoy the friendship.
  • Monday late afternoon and evening I joined my friend Donna for a movie (Star Trek...go see it!!) and then a special dinner as a fundraiser/benefit the Oklahoma Red Cross's relief efforts.  I have since learned that through their efforts at a "pop-up" restaurant in Myriad Gardens, the culinary artists who lent their talents to OK Chefs Relief raised over $75,000 on Sunday and Monday.
  • Tuesday for lunch I joined Anita (the PTA/Band mom, awesome substitute teacher, and new friend) and her children for lunch.  While it was meant as a way to help encourage her family, it was also a great way for me to get to know Timothy, her son, who will be in my class next year.  He better watch out because I have some "dirt" on him now, LOL.
Each of these moments have helped provide the emotional and stress relief I've needed so that I can hope to be the best possible support for those I love who are in need.  I know many of my friends and family members are concerned about me and their simply words in person, in e-mail, in text, on Facebook, etc. mean so much.  If nothing else, the lessons surrounding this tragedy are that we need to make sure we communicate to those we love that we do care about them and also to allow others to share that love with us.

While I know it will separate me from the immediate situation here in central Oklahoma, I am strongly looking forward to my upcoming travels...even those that are work related like scoring the essays which high school students from throughout the USA/World wrote for the AP United States History exam.  Summer is a time to recharge in between school years and I know that I need to do as much of that as I can...because with the impact of the tornado I'll need to still be equipped to be a strong support system to my new students next year because they will still be dealing with the effects and changes on their lives.  It's time to let summer begin...
Junior Escorts lined up & ready for graduation

Seniors, Change Your Tassels!

Myriad Gardens before dinner

Chicken Fried Scallops

Tiki Spare Ribs

Desmond Mason's heart made of tornado debris

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Tornado: Part Six

Thus far I have had an opportunity to go in to the interior of the devastated areas so as to help clean the rubble of two family's homes.  One of the families, Brad and Tiffany and their children, includes one of our teachers at Southmoore.  The other family, Donna and Sarah, includes one of my students and her mother who has become a good friend.  While I had heard stories about the damage at these two homes, it truly broke my heart to see the devastation.

In both cases, the families had been told that they needed to get the rubble as close to the curb as possible; this included each and every brick fragment.  At Brad and Tiffiany's home in Moore it was their understanding that everything but the slab had to be cleared out.  At Donna and Sarah's home in south Oklahoma City they were told that anything outside of the remaining structure had to be cleared out.  I'm not sure if the difference in the two cases was because of differing city government policies or the overall nature of the damage.  While still classified as a total loss due to holes in walls & the roof, the separation of the roof from the house, the rotation of the house on the foundation, and then the complications of continued rain and water damage throughout the house, the house in Oklahoma City only had to have the external debris removed.  The house in Moore had no roof and the only walls still "standing" was a corner of the kitchen, the bathroom and "parts" of two bedrooms.

The one major common bond in each of these situations was the large number of people who had come out to help clean the rubble.  Due to other commitments, I wasn't able to help out much more than hour at Brad and Tiffany's.  But to be honest, the mammoth number of people who showed up to help remove the debris and remaining house structure was so large that I actually felt in the way at times (this is a good thing...the overwhelming volunteer spirit of Oklahomans and our fellow Americans).  Additionally, the spirit of fellowship that emerges when people work side-by-side in a common goal is simply amazing.  I throughoughly loved the human chain we made at Donna and Sarah's house to help move the chunks of debris from the sides of the house out to the curb.  Each chunk passing through the hands of each of us heading off to a pile which the city would later collect.

In truth, I'm not sure how much physical help I was in either case.  But these are two families that I love and respect and I'm honored that they let me provide whatever simplistic service I could.
Brad & Tiffany's kitchen

Brad & Tiffany's backyard & neighborhood

OSU & USA flags: Brad & Tiffany's symbols of perseverance & hope 

All of the volunteers at Brad & Tiffany's house

Donna & Sarah's garage
(you can see the storm shelter opening in the garage floor...
but Donna was at Briarwood & Sarah was at Southmoore)

Donna & Sarah's patio

New skylight in Donna & Sarah's house

Collapsed wall, garage, second floor damage at Donna & Sarah's house

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Tornado: Part Five

As I pulled into the driveway at Southmoore on Friday morning something colorful caught my attention.  I saw a large amount of yellow shirts on the side of our building...with rakes, shovels, trash bags, etc.  They were helping to clean our grounds of the debris from the peripheral winds of the tornado.  I did make my way out to where they were working so as to learn who this group was.  Interestingly enough I noticed that it wasn't just yellow shirts, but there were also many people wearing purple...there were actually TWO volunteer groups.  The purple clad blessings were part of a national disaster recovery team called DRAW: Disaster Relief at Work; this specific group was a based out of a Michigan community near Detroit.  The yellow clad blessings were part of a national disaster relief team affiliated with the Church of Jesus Christ of Later Day Saints; these "Mormon Helping Hands" include LDS missionaries from all over the U.S. and they were joined today by one of Southmoore's own wonderful LDS families...the Beans!!  Both groups worked long and hard to help beautify our grounds!
DRAW: Disaster Relief at Work (Team Purple)

Mormon Helping Hands (Team Yellow)

Mormon Helping Hands (Team Yellow)

The Bean Family working with Mormon Helping Hands
(Justin, Shawn, Gordon, Shauna, Erin, & Jourdon)
Friday morning was filled with a bunch of "end of year" procedures and clean-up which are part of our usual duties as teachers.  However, no computer network, internet, e-mail, or grade-book access complicated much of this [smile].  I did get as much packed and cleaned up as possible, which included boxing up LOTS of textbooks as this is the end of the adoption cycle for Social Studies textbooks.

The remainder of the day involved some relief/outreach projects which actually began getting planned on Tuesday.  While I was at Norman High School on Tuesday (see Tornado: Part Two) I began receiving some text messages from a friend and colleague with Union Public Schools (Tulsa area).  Philippa Kelly and I have gotten to know each other over the past several years as teachers of AP Human Geography and this relationship has grown since I began my involvement with Student Council.  Philippa is currently the director/coordinator of all student activities at Union High School.  She was contacting me so serve as a local coordinator for delivery of a host of items being donated as part of a relief drive in Union P.S.  We texted and called each other over the next few days and Friday afternoon was the time we scheduled for delivery.

I met up with Philippa and Eli Huff, one of her colleagues from Union, before their arrival to First Baptist Church in Moore.  Due to the interstate route they were planning, along with FBC already being a primary donation drop-off point, we had decided to make the drop here.  As we pulled in to the unloading area we were informed that they did not need anymore bottled water as their supply was already too large so we verbally mentioned that we would take it on down to Southmoore.  As they heard us talking about going to another relief center they asked if we could take more water and some clothing and stuffed animals with us.  Philippa and Eli agreed.  So after unloading many other supplies, including personal hygiene products, baby diapers, and baby formula we took on our agreed upon load.

We then began the navigation process toward Southmoore.  Due to repair to electric lines and other utilities, some of the main roads which had become open following the clearing of major debris were now re-closed. So the route was a major weaving around.  Somehow we ended up driving west 4th Street between Sunnylane and Eastern Avenue and then south on Eastern Avenue toward 19th Street...the heart of much of the devastation which occurred east of I-35.  While not the best route for trying to get to Southmoore rapidly it ended up being an important visual image to all three of us on the importance of the relief work that Union P.S. (and so many other schools and organizations around) were doing.

Union Public Schools' Eli Huff & Philippa Kelly
In a mad dash of unloading items into Southmoore, the representatives from the Moore Council PTA who were overseeing the SHS based relief center were just amazing by the efforts of Union's power team to not only bring items for relief, but to also help shuffle items from one relief center to another.  Members of those yellow clad "Mormon Helping Hands" also helped to unload the supply van.  Philippa and Eli had to leave all too soon so as to get the borrowed van back to Tulsa on time.

I continue to be so blessed by ALL of the various groups who are actively providing their love and support.  I've received so many messages contacting me: from Broken Arrow, OK, to Nevada, to Utah, and even to an agriculture education team at a school in Texas who were concerned about meeting the needs of the animals in Moore's ag. ed. program.  SIMPLY OVERWHELMED WITH BLESSING!!

Reading for Your Travels

As summer time approaches, many people begin thinking about 1) a summer reading list and 2) a vacation get away.  Sometimes it's good to read up on a place that you're planning to visit.  Additionally, if you're not able to physically get away but you have the chance to read why not grab a book about a location you're potentially interested in visiting someday?

I recently came into contact with this great website which provides a recommended reading list for a wide variety of destinations (thank you to my "Seoul Sister" Julie Wakefield).  Regardless of whether the travels you're actually taking (or the ones you're thinking about) are domestic U.S. or something more international, you'll find some suggestions at "Longitude: Books, Recommended for Travelers".

Happy reading to you!
Happy travels to you!
And, hopefully, happy reading AND travels to you!
Whether in person or via the words of others may you enjoy you escape along the roads of lands remote!!!

Tornado: Part Four

Thursday was the first day we were allowed to get back into our schools.  The district had arranged for each school to have an "open house" from 10:00-12:00 so that students could return to get their personal items, return textbooks, and see their friends.  Special arrangements were worked out for the students, teachers, and staff from Briarwood and Plaza Towers elementary schools to meet at either Wayland Bonds or Eastlake elementaries.

Throughout the evening before and early Thursday morning I received a variety of questions through a couple of Facebook pages and tweet accounts I operate for school business regarding how to get to Southmoore with roads being closed.  The only way that anyone would be able to get to Southmoore would be to find some eastern or western route to get south of the school and then to travel north on Santa Fe.
Southmoore is a ALIVE and WELL
Teachers arrived at 9:00 for a local faculty meeting.  While most of us had seen each other at yesterday's district-wide faculty meeting, as well as during our school specific break-out meeting, it was still a significant time of encouragement for each other.  One of our staff members lost her son at Plaza Tower.  Seven of our teachers/staff members had their homes totally destroyed and/or significantly damaged and many others had close family members impacted.  We talked about issues with getting final grades posted, especially since the district's internet connections and phone lines were still down.  A link to use at home was provided on Wednesday but many were having issues with it; some troubleshooting ideas were shared.
Faculty meeting in Southmoore media center
Then we were dismissed to greet our students!! This time started out with me being in my classroom.  Anita, the PTSA & Band mom I discussed in "Tornado: Part Three", and her son Timothy stopped by.  I gave them each big hugs to reassure them that we were there to support them and love them.  A couple of other students stopped by in the early minutes of this "open house" time and then an announcement was made over the intercom system.  A study initiated and student led prayer circle was being held in our commons area and everyone was invited to attend.  As I was heading out of my classroom, one of my Buddhist students commented the guessed he would go to the prayer circle even though he wasn't a Christian.  I smiled and reminded him that God hears prayers from people of all faiths.  He smiled in return and you could tell this was more about embracing a sense of unity and community among the students so impacted by this horrible event than it was about promoting any form of religious dogma.

Due to the small number of students who had come by my room I was totally caught off guard by how many students had already begun circling around the commons for this prayer circle.  Teachers, staff, and parents began coming out of the hallways to join them.  Due to the size of the space and the vast quantity of people, the student who had been selected to lead the large public prayer opted to return to the office so as to speak over the intercom.  It truly was a moment about community spirit!

Since most of the students were now downstairs and in the commons, that is where I remained for the rest of the "open house" time.  I stood near a central table so that student had a centralized location for turning in textbooks even if they couldn't find their specific teacher. "Don't worry, we'll get it checked in for you".  Also, as I saw students from my specific classes I let them know that today I had a policy of "Everyone Gets a Hug", a it seemed like they all wanted one too.  You could tell that their spirits were so shaken by the events earlier in the week that this ability to see friends and teachers along with hugs and other expressions of encouragement were exactly what they needed.  And I have to admit that I needed it too.  Afterall, during the chaos of Monday I was only with one group of my students.  Today allowed me to visually see nearly all of my students so as to truly know that they were safe.
Kari, Marrisa, Lyndsey, Sarah, Mr. Burton, Hunter, & Michaela

Griffin, Daniel, Nhi, Sungwon, Bao, Mr. Burton, Peter,
Lynn, Monica, Sang, Bryan, Maddie, & Anco
An additional special moment which helped to give a sense of normalcy to being at Southmoore was when students from our band's drumline lined up on the landing of our grand staircase to perform several drum chants.  At various times throughout the year we have drumline in between Fifth and Sixth periods as a mini-pep rally before a big football or basketball game or to help encourage a team heading off to a state tournament.  Drumline today helped to show that WE ARE SOUTHMOORE and our spirit is not broken!

Monday, May 27, 2013

Tornado: Part Three

Let's just say that Wednesday brought several moments of personal encouragement for me personally.

It actually started on Tuesday evening when a friend...a mother of one of Southmoore's sophomores (he'll be in my class next year), a PTSA mom, a band mom, a wonderful substitute teacher, etc... and, unfortunately a victim of Monday's tornado, tagged me in a Facebook message linked to a picture.  The picture was of a sweet hand-written note which had been placed inside of a boxed meal which was given to her by volunteers with the disaster relief team from my home church (Crossings Community Church).  Anita knew that I attend Crossings and wanted to reach out to express thanks in the only way she knew how.  I, in turn, shared that picture and the story of the family who benefited and how they were connected to me with my church and it further inspired their work.

Wednesday morning, I reached out to my church again.  I had begun learning of another need for the families of the Southmoore community, especially from faculty members.  One of the immediate needs was to have a way to get as many personal items removed from their damaged/destroyed homes before continued rain feel and ruined more of those things which could currently be salvaged.  I simply asked the church if they had a source for moving boxes.  I actually went up to the church late morning to visit with our missions outreach pastors to make arrangements for getting the boxes into the hands of those in need.

While at Crossings I was able to witness in person the beautiful faces of volunteers who had shown up for day two of making boxed meals.  It was so well organized and brought tears to my eyes.  I began to show the various volunteers a picture on my phone of the note that had fallen into Anita's hands the day before.  I wanted them to know that their work had meaning and that so many truly families in need were benefiting from what might be seen as a simply act of love.

assembling the sandwiches

sandwiches, chips, pickle spear, and cookies into the boxes

hand writing words of encouragement and love
placing the notes into the boxes

closing up the boxes

In the mid-afternoon I, along with countless other faculty members from Moore Public Schools attended a special district-wide faculty and staff meeting hosted at Southern Hills Baptist Church.  The messages of hope, encouragement and resiliency were so meaningful to those in attendance and they helped begin the healing process for those of us with the vocational calling to educate and safe guard our children.  During the meeting I "live-tweeted" notes and so I'll re-post them here as the summary for this meaningful time:

  • At request of MPS admin, pastor of Southern Hills Bapt. opens meeting with prayer & reading of 23rd Psalm #Moore #tornado
  • Standing ovation for MPS Superintendent Susie Pierce. Such a grace-filled lady!!! #Moore #tornado
  • In prep for retirement speech Supt Piece reflected on times of struggle as they helped build the relationships which she treasures
  • Beautiful & tear filled standing ovations for Briarwood & Plaza Towers faculties. "Hugs" to rescue workers!!!
  • Introduction of admin from Joplin, MO to help provide help. #Moore #tornado
  • Briarwood & Plaza Towers destroyed. Highland East Jr High gym destroyed. ASC damaged. Tech Center destroyed but servers saved!!! TY Dell
  • Reading of names of 7 children who died at Plaza Towers. TY to Jennifer Doan for efforts to save them; prayers for recovery. #Moore
  • Information about gatherings at schools on Thursday. All 3 graduations as scheduled. TY to Stanley's Grad Service for donated robes.
  • ASC will be temporarily relocated to Moore High's media center #moore #tornado
  • Grief counseling information will be made available for all students, teachers, administration. Details coming ASAP
  • Looking for donation of 3000 t-shirts that say "We Are Moore Public Schools" for our teachers to proudly wear!! #moore #tornado
  • We stay because that's who we are. Some call us stubborn by Supt Pierce believes it is our tenacity and love of what we do.
  • Supt Pierce turned it over to new Supt Dr Robert Romines. He is glad he is "not alone" because he knows we are all a team. #moore #tornado
  • Supt Romines "Briarwood & Plaza... WE ARE GOING TO REBUILD" & then loud applause!!!
  • "Our maintenance teams are working like dogs. Thank them!" from Supt Romines
  • "Your former superintendent, Ms. Pierce, is the rock that I've needed. She's my mom at work" from Supt Romines
  • "Don't let anyone ask you to second guess your efforts at school on that day!!!" encouragement from Supt Romines #moore #tornado
  • As Supt Romines got to Plaza Towers, Principal Amy Simpson crawled out of twisted metal (gym) smiling; encouragement to discouraged admin
  • State Superintendent @JanetBarresi offering encouragement to our MPS family. @GovMaryFallin wants us at Sunday PM service 6:00 at FBC Moore
  • State Supt @JanetBarresi "Give a list of your needs, paper, pens, SmartBoards, etc, because we're going shopping!!!"
  • State Supt @Janet Barresi "Moore [Schools] is setting a standard of resilience for the whole country...your kids know they are safe with you"
  • Supt Romines in front of Supt Pierce, Supt @JanetBarresi, & MPS admin team "it takes a village, all of us"
MPS teachers gathering in Southern Hills' sanctuary

Supt. Susie Pierce (on stage in lower left; on screen in upper right)

Supt. Janet Barresi on big screen; Joplin, MO admin seated in choir loft

Supt. Robert Romines on the main floor
Supt. Pierce, Supt Barresi, Board of Education, & Administrative Team on stage

I was then able to spend about an hour visiting with Donna, the teacher at Briarwood & mother of Sarah who I mentioned texting in "Tornado: Part One".  I wanted to do everything I could to be an encouragement to her, especially as I learned true nature of the damage of her home.  I also put into her hands 20 large plastic tubs to help pack & store she and Sarah's possessions while they go through a rebuilding process.

The spiritual highlight of the evening for me was a prayer service held at Crossings.  Regular Wednesday evening activities were canceled so as to come together as a church family to pray for our community and leaders who will help guide as we go forward and rebuild.
Crossings Community Church's Senior Pastor: Marty Grubs

One of the songs during the service really spoke to me; I was not previously acquainted with this song but its powerful words are so apropos for the events connected with the tornado:

While I know that I have a long road of healing for my spirit, I know that with each passing day I am becoming more and more encouraged and better equipped to be who I need to be to help those who were more directly impacted by this disaster.