It was dismissal time on a cool December afternoon when I walked some of my first graders out the door. One kid went running to his mom at the sight of her. I smiled watching the excitement of their embrace when I noticed something seemed off with the mother.
Tears filled her eyes and it was then that I learned about the fate of the students at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut.
Shock, disbelief, and terror filled up the hearts of many. The stories that came out were heartbreaking and we all wondered, how could this have happened?
So may years later and we still don’t understand.
Even more hoorifying, there have been more shootings in schools where teachers and students have lost their lives.
There are times throughout the year that all schools practice lockdown drills. I give my first graders who are anywhere from 6 to 7 years old an idea of what to expect when it happens.
Then we huddle together in the dark. We keep far away from being seen. At first, there are nervous giggles. When I shush them quietly, they get more nervous. Something in me must be giving them a signal of how serious this is. I whisper quietly that we are just practicing and we are all safe. They look back at me with questioning eyes. Minutes take forever as we wait for an all clear.
Meanwhile as I am reassuring them, there are a million different scenarios going through my head.
What would I do if I heard gunshots? How would I handle it if someone rattled my door then tried to bust their way in? What if someone got in? What if my kids made noises out of fear? How many could I shield? How could I keep them safe? What if I have to carry them? What in my classroom will help us? How soon will help arrive? Did I remember to keep my phone near me? The thoughts spin around and around my head.
YOUR CHILD’S TEACHER IS SITTING IN THE SOMEWHAT DARK THINKING ABOUT ALL OF THESE SCENARIOS.
Let that sink in.
How has that come to be our normal?
The drill ends and it is time for all the questions that the children have. These are kids who were in diapers just a short time ago and who if all goes according to plan, will be our future. Their lives matter. The questions bring up many discussion points that are handled carefully with the ultimate goal of making them feel safe in their school.
I shake slightly as I always do after these drills end and pray we never experience a moment where it is not practice. How many others have thought the same?
Meanwhile a few short miles away, my kids teachers are doing the same with my own babies and I am so grateful. This is only a drill I tell myself. Only a drill.
I smile at the kids and they smile back. We go back to the joy of learning.
Just as it should be.
Our hearts go out to the family members of the victims on this sad anniversary of the Sandy Hook tragedy. The fact that it did not stop here is unacceptable and demands change. Our schools should be a safe place for all to be.
Thank you for reading and sharing.