We had a serious issue at school on Friday. One student claimed that another student had stolen her colored marker. The other girl claimed that the marker was hers. The solution was to go to the store, purchase another marker, and tell the first girl that we found it, and make everybody happy.
That’s when I was stunned into reality.
I was driving to a store to purchase the colored marker when I heard that 20 first graders were killed in Connecticut. I shouted, “NO!” in my car. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.
I immediately thought of my own kids who were in school. How would I feel if what happened in Connecticut happened at their school? It made me want to cry. I know I’m not alone.
How can anyone point a gun at a six-year-old?
It still feels unreal.
I remember when the shooting at Columbine High School took place. I was a teacher in a middle school, and I began asking myself the question, “What would I do?”
What would I do if someone came to my school with a gun?
I began looking around my classroom for any kind of weapon that I would be able to use if I had to.
I came up with two: the fire extinguisher and my teacher scissors – hardly weapons capable of protecting my kids from a person with an automatic weapon.
I felt helpless.
After what happened in Connecticut, I began asking questions again.
I asked myself if I would be able to be as brave as the teachers at Sandy Hook who thought of the safety of their students instead of their own personal safety.
Would I have been able to remain focused and follow the instructions we are given each time we have a lock down drill or would I be paralyzed with fear?
I hope I never find myself in the situation where I will have find out the answers to these questions.
Now as I sit in the chair of the school administrator, I ask new questions.
What will I do if someone comes through the office doors wanting to cause harm to my students? I have more than a classroom of kids to think about. Now, I’m responsible for over 1000 young lives, along with the teachers and staff.
I will probably be among the first to encounter the individual. I could possibly be one of the first targets.
What would I do? How would I react?
I don’t know.
I’m no hero.
The tragedy in Connecticut has rocked me to the core. I believe every teacher, administrator, counselor, custodian, or any other person who works with children has been rocked to the core.
What I have committed myself to do from now on is to take every earthquake drill, every fire drill and every lock down drill more seriously. Many times we see these drills as interruptions to our schedules. They get in the way of our teaching and mess up our lesson plans.
After Friday’s events, we must see these “interruptions” as essential preparations to avoid loss of life. We have to practice what to do. We need to memorize the escape routes. We need to keep our emergency attendance sheets updated. We need to check the batteries in the flashlights. We need to take time to review the procedures with the students. We need to do everything we can to make sure that should we find ourselves in an emergency situation, we will be able to calmly and expertly follow the safety procedures.
Undoubtedly, there could have been more people killed in Connecticut had it not been for the quick thinking and preparation of the teachers and staff. We have already been given details of the teacher heroes at Sandy Hook who looked beyond their safety to save lives.
My heart goes out to the families of the victims and to the survivors of the tragedy. I can’t imagine what they’re going through right now. They are in my thoughts and prayers every day.
I’m sure there will be debates on gun control and school security in the following days. I’ll leave that to the politicians.
Something needs to be done, however, so that a teacher doesn’t have to risk his/her life to be considered a hero. We don’t need anymore of those kinds of teacher heroes.
Let’s pray for the day when teachers will be only called heroes for the actions taken to save a student from falling through the cracks or for keeping a student from dropping out of school or for making a connection that will inspire a student to change the world.
Now it’s time to review those emergency procedures again.