I’ve been so wrapped up in school and in the hustle and bustle of the holidays approaching, that I’m afraid I’ve neglected my blog a bit over the past few weeks. Needless to say, our school tragedy in Newtown, CT compels me to write. I am heartbroken for the children and educators who lost their lives in this horrific event, and send my sincere condolences to their family members and friends who are left to mourn their absence. It is truly unbelievable.
I first learned of this dreadful news while dropping off my 19 smiling first graders at P.E. Friday afternoon. The idea of someone entering our building to do unspeakable harm to them or my fellow staff members left a bottomless pit in my stomach. As a teacher, I couldn’t help but play out the scene in our school and in my own classroom. I feel that I would do anything to protect my students, but I found myself wondering how the teachers of Sandy Hook Elementary reacted when actually faced with such wrath and violence.
In hearing their stories, it sounds like they did just as any teacher across America could only hope they would do. They implemented their school’s routine safety procedures, comforted and consoled their frightened students, and in some cases showed great heroism by facing the shooter and even shielding their children from bullets. We cannot let one senseless human being make us question all of mankind, when such a tragedy reveals all that is inherently good in so many.
We work so hard to make the children feel safe, loved, and part of a strong school community that welcomes parents and visitors in to be a part of it. While this is a good time for school officials, administrators, and teachers to reflect on safety measures within the school setting, it is also a time to put the children’s needs first.
As the kids return to school this Monday, they need to be greeted by their normal routines and the warm, welcoming faces of their teachers. Some may have questions. Some may not. Let’s keep it simple and answer these questions in a sensitive, age-appropriate manner that assures the children that they are cared for and part of a safe learning environment.
There is such excitement and magic in the air around this time of year in elementary schools. In this final week leading up to the holiday break, let’s do all that we can to ignite the wonder, joy, and enchantment in learning that every child deserves. Remind the children of all that is inherently good in the world just through you being you. A kind, compassionate presence is all that is really needed.
So, with the Sandy Hook Elementary families in mind, please enjoy and appreciate the holidays with your loved ones. I will surely be doing the same. Much love.