Like so many others, I watched the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary unfold via Twitter on Friday, crying in front of my computer while my students were at music. The hushed conversations between teachers quickly took over the school and yet our kids walked around happy it was Friday. Happy lunch was soon, happy that Christmas is coming and that there is a chance of snow, completely unaware of the unspeakable evil happening at another school just like ours. We were told to keep all students off computers, to not mention anything, so we sent them out the door with high fives and great jobs, and see you on Monday. Then we grieved after they left and huddled together asking the tough question; what would we do if it happened to us?
The truth is we don’t know. We too have been trained in drills of what to do, but I know it is not enough. We will be sitting ducks just like everyone else. My husband asked me if I was going to take a hammer to school to leave in the room, he wasn’t joking, because the truth is, we have nothing to protect ourselves with. A locked door, a secretary who buzzes you in, a name tag cannot protect our children.
I read about the teacher who hid her kids and lied about their whereabouts and I wonder if I would be so brave? I wonder if I could react and protect as instinctually and fearlessly as she must have. I hope I could.
On Monday, school resumes and my students will tell me about the killings. They will have some questions, I am sure, but I will leave most of the discussions up to parents. I will tell them that school is safe even if I have no way of knowing. I will be told by my district whether to change anything in our safety procedure and soon we will be lulled back into our sense of safety and we will again begin to gripe about the small things. We will move on because that is what we do. We will have cries of change needed yet our funding will continue to be cut resulting in fewer teacher, fewer psychologists, fewer guidance counselors – the very people we need in schools to prevent tragedies.
We are a broken nation when our school becomes the ultimate cry for help from someone with a horrific plan. We are a broken nation when this continues to happen and we change nothing. We are a broken nation when it takes multiple murders to get our attention. How can we begin to heal?
PS: If you have the time to read another post, please read “Preparing for the Worst Case Scenario” by Kris Still on Beth Still’s blog. And then forward it to your school district.