Tuesday, December 18, 2012
Like so many other bloggers, I have been grieving this weekend for the victims in Connecticut and their families. Much has been said about the loss of the twenty small children who were murdered there, and I too have found myself cuddling my daughters while brushing away tears several times a day ever since. The horror of those little lives cut short so brutally is beyond anything I can understand. But I wanted to take a moment to remember those teachers who lost their lives that day as well.
I spent nine years as a fifth grade teacher at two different schools, and one year as an assistant principal at yet another site. During the first week of school each year, I held the standard "here's what we do if a person with a gun walks into the room" discussion, and throughout each year I participated in the required school wide "intruder on campus" drills, all the while fighting the sick feeling in the pit of my stomach as I wondered how I could ever protect all my kids if such a thing really happened. In those ten years, I experienced several actual school lock downs, at least one of them because some criminals decided to make an escape across our campus before they were captured by the local police. My duties as an assistant principal included development of the emergency program, researching and implementing the steps we would take in any number of crisis situations. I remember attending a conference on school safety that was taught by a member of law enforcement where I learned more than I ever wanted to know about past episodes of school violence, particularly the 2004 Beslan school hostage massacre in Russia. The security portion of my work became one of the most distressing parts of my job, and I would often lose sleep because of nightmares about any number of emergencies happening on campus while I desperately tried to help rescue the children.
I cannot tell you how deeply I honor the six educators who were killed on Friday while trying to protect their students. They bravely faced one of the darkest fears that I struggled with as a teacher, and they were faithful to their calling to serve their children even though it cost them their lives. Educators today -- public or private, teachers or administrators or specialists -- do their best to teach and love the children in their care, sometimes in the most difficult of circumstances and often with far fewer resources than they truly need. Tragedies like Sandy Hook just make the burden even harder to bear.
Though I now stay home with my girls, my husband is still a middle school history teacher, and my sister's husband teaches middle school math. Several of my extended family members are elementary teachers, while my husband's brother works at a college back east. I would be lying if I said that I didn't worry about a school shooting happening on one of their campuses, because I do all the time. But I know that they can't stop doing what they're called to do because of the possible dangers. So I pray.
Pray for the teachers in your life. Love them and support them and encourage them every chance you get. They need it more than you know.