It should be no surprise to learn there are numerous teachers who put their students first, and do all they can to ensure their safety. We have certainly seen that in action here in the United States in recent times. But this is not a new phenomenon.
This is the story of Minnie Freeman. On January 12, 1888, she was a nineteen year old schoolteacher in Mira Valley, Nebraska. The day was considered unseasonably warm, the temperature that morning moving up to 28 degrees. But by afternoon there was a considerable change in the weather. In a very short time, a storm blew in and quickly changed to blizzard conditions. Snow dumped across the region and there were white-out conditions in Nebraska and South Dakota.
All across the state, students were trapped in their schoolhouses. Many could not get out to get the wood that may have been nearby, but could not be seen. For some, it would be two days before the students and teachers could be reached.
It was said Minnie had thirteen children in her sod schoolhouse. (Some reports mentioned as many as seventeen.) However as the wind howled outside, the windows of the school were blown out. Then the roof was blown off. Minnie knew they could not stay there. She took a ball of heavy twine out of her desk and tied the children together, then to herself. She instructed them that they were to keep one hand on the child in front of them, and if one felt the need to stop, they would all stop.
It was close to a mile to the nearest house. Minnie fixed her gaze on the house place, and they set out. No mention was made of how long it took, but it had to be a very long time. However, they all eventually reached the house, where they were immediately taken in and made welcome. Hay was laid on the floor and blankets brought in and they all survived.
The temperatures dropped that night to minus 30 in some places, and down to minus 40 in others. Over 200 people died across the state that night. There were so many people stranded, so many in schools, that it was dubbed the Schoolchildren's Storm.
Minnie was hailed as a hero by all the media. She didn't like the designation, as she knew there were many more that had suffered and cared for their children as well. But media attention is not always fair, is it? The resulting newspaper stories resulted in her receiving over 80 marriage proposals. She did eventually marry, though there is no mention if her husband was one of the eighty.
In later years, Minnie became interested in politics and worked for the Republican Party in Nebraska. She died in 1945 at the age of 75. While she was a reluctant heroine, she may have eventually come to realize she was symbolic of dedicated teachers across the state that always did the best they could for their students.