Cold Temps, Warm Hearts – Part 1

Snow, ice, and surprise caught Atlanta off-guard last week causing thousands of residents to be stranded in their places of work, vehicles on the interstate, and even children spending the night at school. While many school systems have come under scrutiny for decisions about dismissal, my focus is on the educators who chose to go all out and make a difference for their students in the worst of circumstances. This week I am sharing two stories of a principal and a teacher and their experience of being snowed in at school. I heard these stories earlier in the week and have been in touch with both Brooke and Matt who eagerly granted me permission to tell their stories, use pictures, and even added further details. I hope you will be as encouraged as I have been through these stories.

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Brooke Leffelman teaches at Dunleith Elementary School in Marietta, GA. When Brooke realized that the busses would not be coming to pick up her students, she had the option to stay at a friend’s apartment across the street but chose like several other staff to spend what would become 31 hours watching K-5th graders. Even looking back on the night, she describes it as being “like something out of a movie.” She and her colleagues stayed up all night and “was there for the kids who needed to go to the bathroom sleepwalking, who just needed reassurance that mommy was coming back, and we covered them with our own coats, clothes, and disposable table cloths.”

Her Facebook post describes her night:

“I have made sandwiches for staff and students, cleaned the kitchen, been a runner taking down names, keeping parents calm and retrieving their children since 2:30pm, and that’s the short list here at Dunleith Dolphin Camp… and they are asking if I’m making pancakes in the morning. Sleeping here with 60 or more kids. We unloaded mats from the gym, helped load a wheel chair and family of kids into the car of a Good Samaritan, had a snowball fight, laughed till my belly hurt, and all of us teachers are wide awake over here at Dunleith. If you have babies stranded at school I just want to say that YOU can trust us with your kids. Our school didn’t start letting out till 3:15 but the buses never came. Staying up all night with everyone else’s babies K-5. Snuggled up in the media center. LOVE these babies!”

I LOVE this! And while not every teacher would love their students like this, many would.  And in Brooke’s words, “YOU can trust us with your kids” – from routine school days and even in crisis.  We love your kids and love serving them: this is the heartbeat of committed teachers.

Brooke went on to tell me that if she had to give a title to those days, it would be “When Loves Goes Walking.” She explains, “many can talk about love but few take it for a walk. Few actually dig into 1 John 4 and play out the essence of love, taking the rawest form defined by ONE. People all over GA have endured their loves in all sizes out walking away from their cars into the uncertainty of the night. People all over GA have walked from the certainty of their walls to the stranded on the interstates to deliver on a promise made to God. People in GA schools went walking to reunite parents with students and exhausted all options, believing that giving up was never an option. If you want to live like Jesus, you have to walk like Jesus.”

Well said, Brooke, well said.

Where can you take love for a walk this week?

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