A career change left a Hartford principal in a New York City classroom at the time of the 9/11 attacks

9/11 Never Forget

September 11 Timeline

(WTNH) – Educators are among those with strong memories of September 11. A career change left a Hartford principal in a New York City classroom.

News 8’s Mackenzie Maynard brings us his story and how it’s shaped his path in education two decades later.

“Everything changed. It’s hard to believe it was 20 years ago,” said Tim Barber.

Time Barber is the principal at CREC University of Hartford Magnet School. While he’s been overseeing the halls for 14 years, education wasn’t always his path.

“So, I used to be a tax accountant, and I was working as an accountant in NYC,” Barber said.

He decided on a career change.

“In 2001, in April, I applied to the NYC teaching fellows program, which was to take people who wanted to make a career change become a teacher,” Barber explained.

He got accepted and started the program in June. In fact, he and his now-wife both made the career change together and became teachers at PS 49 in the South Bronx.

“So, it was really my fourth day of teaching in my entire life,” Barber said.

His fourth day of teaching will forever be a day he never forgets.

“And I saw another come up to the door and just like knock on the window and told me to come here, so I went over to the door and went out the hallway, and she told me that a plane just hit the World Trade Center,” Barber said.     

Trying to process it himself as he had a room full of third-grade students.

“But I remember looking in the hallway, there’s parents coming in the building, coming into the classrooms,” Barber said.

Everyone left early that day and returned two days later.

“I just remember coming back, just making sure that we were trying to be strong for our kids and being a good role model for them in doing our best to answer the questions,” Barber said.

A moment in history that holds so much more meaning to Tim Barber as he continues his path as an educator two decades later.

“Twenty years ago, my life changed, and I guess I’m a lucky one because I change for the better. It helped me find a direction in life and just find a purpose,” Barber said.  

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