Jul 29, 2014
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Letter to the Editor: It's a Disaster, Not an Inconvenience

A Cinnaminson teacher says he hopes his students know the difference in light of Hurricane Sandy.

Letter to the Editor: It's a Disaster, Not an Inconvenience

To the editor:

I just finished reading a letter to the editor by one of our students here at Cinnaminson High School. The letter gave many reasons why this student felt "inconvenienced" by having the makeup days for school missed being next week. The days of Nov. 8 and 9 were originally for the now-cancelled New Jersey teachers’ convention.

I have a confession to make; I am embarrassed to say that I complained this Tuesday when my TV, Internet and phone service were interrupted for one night. I somehow managed to get through that "difficult night" by taking my family out to dinner and a movie so we could survive living without the comforts of today’s electronic world for one night!

I know how stressed students get from having homework and projects due. I can see how the college application process is a worrisome time for many because their futures are directly tied to where they go to college and how well they qualify to get into the schools of their choice. As an educator, I am mystified that we can try and teach our students that the world we live in doesn’t just revolve around us and yet these lessons for some don’t seem to be getting through. The disaster of Sandy which is unprecedented in terms of people affected and the amount of property damage is so much more than an “inconvenience!”

I have been stunned by the sheer numbers of people affected by this disaster:
8 million people without electric, nearly 100 dead at last count, many bodies are still yet to be located. I watched on the news hundreds in line to buy one gallon of gas to keep their generators going, only to be told after 4-5 hours in line the stations simply do not have any more gas. I have seen whole sections of towns like Breezy Point wiped off the map. The scenes of thousands of homes completely destroyed and agonizing peoples' faces that still can’t even get back to their communities to even check on how much damage was done is more than an "inconvenience!"

If I as a teacher have not taught my students more sensitivity to this overwhelming amount of human suffering—forget merit pay—I have failed to do my job! The student wrote in her letter that she wanted to contact the governor to discuss whether or not these days even have to be made up. Somehow I think the governor has more on his mind right now than excusing students from school for the days they had off.  

I have to say that seeing the governor on TV, I could see real anguish in his face talking about the state he has lived in his whole life and the shore area he has loved since childhood.

I hope that many students will take this opportunity, and knowing them as I do, I can almost guarantee it, to reach out to others—not with complaints but with sympathy because they know the difference between an "inconvenience" and a "disaster!"

Richard Masi
Cinnaminson High School teacher

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