In what now feels like another lifetime, I was once a third grade teacher in a very rural area of Virginia that most people have never heard mentioned ~ Louisa County. Teaching at Thomas Jefferson Elementary School was my first career after graduating from college and while my time there only lasted a short while, I still have fond memories of my students, now college age themselves. In the shape of former coworkers, parents of former students, and scrapbook buddies, I also have more connections and friends in Louisa from my three years there than I’ve managed to make in five years in the DC area. I don’t see my Louisa friends often, but they still feel like family.
One year ago today, for me and many of my friends, our lives were “flipped, turned upside down” as Will Smith would explain it. My grandmother, to whom I was very close, passed away, and while I was in the car with my father making the trip to Philadelphia, PA, a magnitude 5.8 Earthquake rocked the rural county of Louisa, VA. In case you’re not from the area, an Earthquake of this size was unimaginable for us. As a result, Thomas Jefferson Elementary School was destroyed. This summer on the 4th of July, I went to Louisa to visit a friend, and I took some time to see the site where TJES once stood. There were a lot of things that I never particularly liked about that building – it was old, it was moldy, it flooded repeatedly, it wasn’t designed to be an elementary school, I could go on… Yet I’m choking up. I have a lump in my throat. The tears are about to flow. I suppose it’s time to let the pictures do the talking.
This sign is all that remains of what we once knew as TJES. The rest will just look like any other construction site to many of you, but make sure you scroll all the way to the end.
The last 5th grade class of TJES. This rock warms the entire site up.