"When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, "Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping." To this day, especially in times of "disaster," I remember my mother's words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world." - Mr. Rogers
I feel like I need to say something, but like everyone, I don't really know what to say.
As you all know, on Friday, 26 people were killed in an elementary school shooting. From what I can tell from the name/birthday victim list, it looks like most of what happened was in a kindergarten and first grade classroom. Kids who were born the same year, the same month, even maybe the same day as my 22 little kindergarten children.
Meanwhile, I was at work, in my kindergarten classroom trying to get 22 excited for Christmas and vacation children to listen to one single word I said. My phone was vibrating in my purse, but I was busy attending to IEP meetings, concert dress rehearsals and trying to manage the tears and whines of "he pushed me!" and "but she cut me in line!"
After work I continued blissfully in my work-related bubble, with a work holiday party and some after party drinks at our favorite bar. It really wasn't until I got home that night around 9:30, that I started to be exposed to Facebook and Twitter and realize what really happened on Friday. It wasn't until I had checked my work e-mail and seen more than one parent asking me what I planned to tell the kids on Monday...
It wasn't until I started reading the stories of teachers my age, with students the same age as my students, who had to shield their students from a killer, or barricade themselves into a bathroom with twenty something students…
It wasn't until I saw the list of victims names, and their birth dates… 2005… 2006… that I realized the magnitude of what happened in Connecticut on Friday and how lucky I am that my biggest problem that day was students pushing each other in line, or fooling around when they were supposed to be writing.
So where do we go from here?
Well I don't know. I really don't. I'm not going to point fingers and blame this person, or that law. I'm not going to blame the media, though I am going choose to not say (and hopefully eventually forget) the name of the person who did this. I choose instead to discuss the heroes, the helpers, and the kids. Victoria Soto was a 27 year old first grade teacher, who hid her students in closets and cabinets to protect them. Both Victoria, and her colleague Anne Marie Murphy, died shielding their students. There was a little girl (age 6) named Charlotte Bacon who was killed on Friday. Her mom reported that Charlotte had been wearing a beautiful pink dress and new boots that were supposed to be for Christmas on Friday. Apparently, her mom wanted her to save them but Charlotte insisted on wearing them to school. I can see this image of Charlotte in so many of my little girls. Chase Kowalski, another victim, also six year old, completed his first mini triathlon this summer and won it. There are many more wonderful, but heart breaking, stories like these.
I hope that when my own students test my patience this week, and I know they will, that I don't let one second go by where I forget what is really important, that they will have the luxury of choosing their outfit the next day, of riding their bike outside if it's warm enough or playing in the snow when it comes.
Also, some reads that I have found interesting this weekend:
And of course, where I got the stories I mentioned above: On portraits of the victims