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eagle tale

illustration by Shannon Mooney ('94)Disk save by Diane Balthrop

Throckmorton sits in the middle of "tornado alley," which means frequent severe storms during the spring — and this year was no different.

Since coming back home to teach third grade, I'd done the tornado drills with my students dozens of times without ever seeing a real storm. We'd line up in front of lockers and assume the safety position of crouching down with hands over head and head between legs. If you've never done it, you may not know, but it's not a comfortable or flattering position for teachers.

During this year's tornado season, I was busy finishing up projects for my last two library certification courses, which I was taking online through UNT's School of Library and Information Sciences.

Linda Wells, who'd been the school librarian in Throckmorton for 29 years, was retiring. Linda was my librarian as a kid, and more than anything she wanted me to be the one to replace her. I would be carrying on a long and wonderful legacy.

From my perspective, the two biggest obstacles to this legacy were an action research paper for my Trends and Practices in School Librarianship class, and a case study for my Learning Resources Centers and Services class.

The action research paper entailed months of auditing books, budgets and even the library floor plans to improve the Throckmorton school library's state rating. I also needed these materials for the case study.

There was no way I'd ever lose my work without a fight — I'd even made a contingency plan to wrap my home computer in plastic and clothing and bury it under the house in the event of a tornado.

When a tornado did come, it arrived on a school day — and I hadn't implemented my contingency plan.

With severe thunderstorms all around us, we weren't surprised when we had a real tornado drill. After the alarm sounded, we all quietly marched out in the center hall to assume the safety position. I, of course, was wearing a dress and pantyhose.

Amongst the chaos of parents arriving to pick up their children before heading to their storm shelters, we were able to stay relatively calm. We were down to around 20 students when our principal decided to move us to the storage room in the cafeteria. Another siren blew, and we were all becoming frantic about our situation.

It was at that moment I realized I had left my computer disk with a month of research in my school bag down the hall in my classroom. Imagining the worst-case scenario of my home computer — and house, for that matter — being blown away, I took off to save my assignments.

The sky was pitch dark outside. The clouds swirled, hail began to fall and rain poured down in sheets — but I was determined not to lose my research.

When I arrived back at the cafeteria, my fellow teachers burst into laughter. Many of them had grown up with me and knew exactly what I ran to save. I told them they had no idea how much time I had spent on these assignments and that neither hail, nor wind, nor sleet, nor rain, nor tornado would keep me from turning them in on time.

But I haven't heard the end of it since that day.

Thankfully, the tornado did not touch down in our small town and we were all just fine. I am also happy to say that my hard work paid off. I received A's on both assignments.



About the author

Diane Balthrop earned her library certification and is now the K-12 librarian at Throckmorton ISD. Tragically, Linda Wells, who was the retiring librarian and Balthrop's mentor, was killed this summer in a car accident. Balthrop says: "I really owe her for helping me pursue this library career. I miss her dearly and it is my goal to carry on her dedication to the libraries here at TISD."

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