Friday, December 14, 2012

A Teacher's Perspective on School Shootings

As everyone has heard by now, there was a mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. 26 people are dead in total, and 20 of those are children. CHILDREN. Elementary school students. The school is a Kindergarten through 4th grade school, so every child in there was age five through ten.

Doesn't it seem insane that someone would shoot CHILDREN?!?! 

Don't get me wrong. Every murder is horrific. But children? Sweet, innocent children? Children who are at the place they feel the very safest aside from their own homes? School is a safe haven for many, and that image has been destroyed for hundreds who witnessed a malicious crime against humanity today, as well as for thousands of others who learned of the tragedy once they got home from school.

What kind of sick person points a gun at an innocent child and shoots? What kind of sick person takes the lives of teachers who are doing their best to protect these children? We don't know the answers yet, but we can all agree that it just isn't right.

As a teacher myself, I was sickened and repulsed when I read about this tragedy while eating lunch with a colleague, but more than anything, I was saddened. It's a terrible feeling to know that violent crimes like this happen all over our country. It makes me question my own safety and well-being. More than anything, though, it makes me nervous as can be about the safety of my students. Sure, they are older, but they are still MY kids. Each and every one of them knows that I have 22 kids of my own, and they are those 22! When they hassle me about not having my own kids, I tell them that I do, and that I have more than the Duggar family! They may be 14 years old, but I have grown so attached to these kiddos since August that I can say without a doubt that I would take a bullet for them if need be. God forbid, but if an intruder somehow got into our building, I would run on adrenaline.

It makes me sick thinking about things like that actually happening, but it's better to be prepared than not, right? Overall, a scenario similar to what happened today in Connecticut is a teacher's worst nightmare. It is something that we see in the media and read in fiction AND non-fiction books. One of my favorite books of all-time is actually about a fictional school shooting (Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult -- check it out here!), but that doesn't mean it's an enjoyable subject.

My mind is numb tonight, and my heart is heavy. As a teacher, I can't imagine losing even one of my precious kids. There are now 26 families who have to find a way to cope with this nightmare. December 14th, 2012, will forever be the worst day of their lives, always marked by tragedy. Their recoveries will be slow, and the children who witnessed their friends, classmates, and teachers being killed will be forever etched into their memories. They may suffer with survivor's guilt. But as a community, I am positive Newtown, Connecticut will be able to help get all 26 families AND all of the witnesses back on their feet.

This was an unthinkable event. I pray that no one ever has o endure this pain again. I think of my silly, creative, intelligent, hard-working students and want to cry at the thought of losing them. Tonight, and for many nights to come, I will be praying especially hard for the small town of Newtown, Connecticut for recovery, redemption, and resiliency.

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