I have had lots of time to think and reflect on the horrible news from last week of the shooting in Florida. Since we are on break, I have spent time alone in my car as I drove to see family several hours away. I can’t come close to knowing how it felt to be a teacher in that school. When I let myself go “there” in my thoughts, I shudder and when I look around that school in my mind, I see the faces of MY kids, the students who I have the immense pleasure of working with each day. I often can’t stay “there” long in my thoughts because it hurts too much to see MY kids’ eyes, which should be filled with life and laughter, full of fear. Or their mouths, which should be turned up at the ends in a smile, be downturned in sorrow. Or their brows, which should be furrowed with effort, be furrowed with anguish.
After one school shooting, sadly, I’m afraid I don’t know which one, I called my mother as I drove home. She asked me what I would do if I were ever in that situation and whether I would protect myself. I can’t remember exactly how I replied, but it was something like, “How can I promise you that? How could I protect myself when MY kids might need me?” Honestly, I don’t know how I would react, but I hope I would be someone that my kids could look to for guidance, reassurance, direction, and calmness. I couldn’t be this person if I was expected to also have a gun. If I was expected to make quick judgments on who was the bad guy and who wasn’t. If I was expected to be both a shooter and a teacher.
To those who think teachers should be armed. The type of people who go into teaching, for the most part, do not have the personalities that would make them comfortable carrying a weapon with the possibility of having to shoot someone; no amount of training can instill this in someone whose calling is to teach. Instead of spending money on arming teachers, why don’t we increase funding for mental health treatment, increase funding for securing buildings more effectively, and perhaps most importantly, make it difficult to get high powered weapons whose only purpose is mass destruction? Why don’t we raise the age for buying guns? You can’t legally drink a beer, but you can buy high-powered semi-automatic rifle that isn’t used for practical purposes like hunting. What is the logic there?
To MY kids, yes, you are more than just my students, my heart breaks that you have to see news reports like you saw last week. This isn’t what you should be seeing and hearing when you turn on the news or read social media. You should be worried about how you can get your homework done when you have a game or practice after school or how you can get the girl or guy you think is cute to notice you. What crazy times we live in. If we are ever in a situation where we are in danger, know that I will do everything in my power to protect you. Look in my eyes and know that you are loved and treasured because YOU are the future. You have whole world in front of you, and even though you might drive me a little nutty at times, I have great confidence in society’s future because YOU will be the ones leading it. YOU can make the world better Live your life by some fairly simple guidelines that I hope you have learned in our time together. Be confident. Be bold. Be kind. Be thoughtful. Be fearless. Be trustworthy. Be tolerant. Be creative.