Friday morning I was sitting in the computer lab at our school when I got a text from Rich that said there was a school shooting, at least 18 kids dead. I immediately went to one of the open computers and was not prepared for what popped up on the screen. Shocked. Stunned. Grief stricken. Numb. Our computer teacher came over and it was like we both couldn't read the information fast enough. I began searching countless websites to try and gather as many details as I possibly could. Details that in hindsight, doesn't change or effect the final outcome.
I am truly lucky. I have said this before, I am blessed to work where my kids go to school. On Friday, it was a comfort that I could tell the computer lab teacher I will be right back as I headed out the door in search of my kids. I needed to see them, know where they were and make sure they were safe. The need was almost suffocating.
Let it be known that these kind of situations are always on our mind. Always. As teachers, it is impossible not to think of these situations when we have students who come up on our radar as kids to watch out for. And the most maddening aspect of this entire thing, at least with our district, is that there is not one counselor available for support. When districts cut budgets, counselors are usually the first to lose their job. Counselors are needed badly. Teachers aren't trained to handle certain situations that need to be dealt with. I would never expect a counselor to walk into my classroom and immediately pick up where I left off and teach the curriculum, just they would not expect me to walk in and speak to a student and know how to deal with depression and suicidal thoughts.
I teach at the elementary school I attended. I love my school. I love that it not only houses my memories as a kid, but now my boys' childhood too. We are an open campus. At anytime, someone can walk on campus and have access to the kids. Sure, there are other campuses in our district that are protected because of the neighborhoods they are in. But not Reese. There has never been a need before. What happened in the small town of Newtown...a town and school just like ours...could happen anywhere, so it begs the question...What now? How do we protect our kids from something like this happening?
One of the most frustrating things about our school is that there is a check-in procedure. But, unfortunately, there are always those parents who believe that the rules don't apply to them. And when they walk into our room without a badge on, their excuse is always..."Oh, I am only going to be minute or two." What happened on Friday...only took minutes.
I did feel numb most of the day on Friday. I felt like what I was watching was almost not real. And I couldn't really wrap my brain around the fact that it actually had happened. When I got home and turned on the television for the first time, the first clip I watched was the President's press release. About thirty seconds into when it was clear that he wasn't going to be able to get through what he had planned on saying, I lost it.
I don't know anything about gun laws. I mean, nothing! I have never held or touched a gun in my life, so I couldn't even begin to make a comment about the gun control laws and what the stipulations are to buy, own, or carry one. I am incredibly ignorant on the subject. The only thing I have to say is...would a few more rules hurt? I, in no way, want to ban people owning guns or anything like that. I just don't think it would hurt to have a couple more laws in place.
And lastly. I'm not ready to walk into my classroom Monday morning and have the conversations I know will take place. I need to get ready...but I'm not there. I pray for composure. I pray that I comfort, instead of fear. I pray that we can have a meaningful conversation about the rarity of this happening, but the realization that it does. All of those are possible...as long as I keep my thoughts straight. As long as I don't go to the place in my head that reminds me that it was a classroom full of Ryan's that are now gone. That twenty parents had to submit a picture of their child so that a face can go with a name of those who are lost. That this school week before Christmas should have been filled with art projects and holiday cheer and now it filled with people who have unbearable grief and questions of why us.
A senseless act.