The Day My Teacher Cried

by Mary Jane Dougherty



Our teacher stood up from her desk with tears in her eyes and said,"Excuse me, I need to get a drink of water." We all sat at our desks stunned and scared and remained sitting at our desks. We waited for our teacher to return. What were we to do?

"Up On The Roof"
sung by The Drifters
written by Gerry Goffin and Carole King

"When this old world starts getting you down
and people are just too much for me to face (up on the roof)
I climb way up to the top of the stairs
and all my cares just drift right into space (up on the roof)"

Let me take you back a few moments before our teacher cried. It was morning as we sat at our desks at Denali Elementary School. The day was November 22, 1963 and I was in the sixth grade. All of us excited knowing that "Thanksgiving Day" was coming soon and the room was decorated in all the bright fall colors of orange and brown. Our construction paper turkeys decorated the room.

As our teacher was talking (now, I can't remember her name) but I know she was from Helsinki, Finland. She was older and had a Finnish accent. Sixth grade was fun and exciting because we ruled, being the top grade and all.

I remember sitting at my desk looking at the chalk board while we waited for our assignment of school work to start for the day. When over the loud speaker we all heard, "This is a special announcement from the principal. While riding in a motorcade in Dallas Texas, the President of the United States has been shot." The principal might have said more, but I don't remember. I can still see the speaker on the wall to this very day and how my hands were folded as they were placed on my desk. We sat there and looked around at each other. Either the teacher asked us to pray or we started to pray on our own.

Then sometime later the stunning, unbelievable news was told to us. Over the loud speaker we heard. "This is a special announcement. The President of the United States John Fitzgerald Kennedy has died." I just stared at the loud speaker and then I began to pray. I heard my fellow classmates moan and cry. And that's when we saw our teacher with tears in her eyes leave the class room. That was the day our teacher cried.

We went about our school day, we did our lessons, we went to lunch, we went to recess. I remembered girls crying in the bathroom. This one girl was crying and wanting to go home and be with her dad.

There was no playbook, no rules, no instructions of what we were supposed to do. We just finished out our day and went home for the mourning and grieving of the days to come as the whole world was gripped to their television sets over those many, many sad days.

That's why I wrote those first lyrics from, "Up On The Roof" a song that heals. "I climb way up to the top of the stairs. And all my cares just drift right into space."


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Silent Sobbing
by: Chet Showalter

I was in the first grade in Sand Lake Elementary school in Anchorage, Alaska when John F. Kennedy was assassinated on November 22, 1963.

Like a black and white picture?

That day in school I have no memory of color.

Like a silent movie picture?

I can recall no sounds.

I remember my teacher sitting, her elbows on the desk.

Her head in her hands.

She was crying.

I heard not her sobbing.

I felt it.

A Sad Day
by: Dan Risch

I too remember that day.

I was a first grader at Sand Lake Elementary and I only remember being in class at my desk when the message came over the speaker that President John F. Kennedy had been assassinated.

It seems that it got very quite.

Being as young as I was, I don't think I really knew what had happened right away, but I did know the adults including my teacher Mrs. Torgenson (somehow I still remember her name after 55 years) were very upset, and that was a little frightening for me.

I'm pretty sure they let classes out early that day.

Certainly one of the saddest days in our history.

Sharing the Sadness of That Day
by: Anonymous

Thank you to the author of this story about that awful day.

I cried reading it because I too remember tha day. In fact, I cried for two weeks after President Kennedy's death.

It Was a Stunning Announcement
by: Michael Dougherty

The principal at East High School in Anchorage came on the intercom and said "I have an announcement."

I was in my English class and we could tell by the principal's voice that something was wrong.

Then he told us that our President, John F. Kennedy had been assassinated, our teacher and our entire class was stunned.

Your story is a powerful reminder of how awful that moment was when we first learned that our president had been shot.

We couldn't believe that our president was gone. How could it be?

Suddenly, our world had changed.

I Remember That Day, Too
by: Linda A. Wingfield

That year, for the very first time, we had a tiny schoolbus that picked up about 14 of us kids who lived outside the city limits of Valdez. Our driver always listened to the radio as we rode (otherwise, we tended to overwhelm him with singing silly songs at the tops of our lungs).

My two brothers and I had just gotten to our seats, when the radio announcer stopped the music and made the announcement about the shooting.

As were you and your class, and everyone else I know, we were utterly stunned. The driver stopped our bus and we all prayed. When we learned that President Kennedy had died, as you all did, we prayed again.

As you said, Mary, there was no choreography. It was spontaneous.

I'll always remember that date. It was exactly a week before my birthday.

Thank you for sharing your story. I sat here and cried again, at the thought of that day. It's good to remember how much we loved President Kennedy.

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