This is not a usual post. This post does not have anything to do with my walk and how I have been impacted by my decision to stay home. This post, rather, has everything to do with the events of Newtown, Connecticut.
I am a news person. I try to stay up to date on all topics broadcast on the media. With the events surrounding the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary, this has been somewhat in overdrive, with me trying to make sense of the senselessness that occurred there.
As I said before, I recently (a few months back) left teaching elementary school after more than a decade. I think back to all of the drills I have been a part of, all of the scary events I have witnessed. In my first year of teaching, I was teaching along the I-95 corridor in Baltimore, Maryland. Two weeks into our school year, September 11 happened. Because of the location of the school and its proximity to BWI and Washington, D.C., we were evacuated for the safety of the students. I'll never forget the terror on the faces of the parents as they tried to pick up their children. The sick feeling in my stomach as I learned of the news on my 11:15 lunch break. The worry I felt for my husband who was working at the airport at the time. The fear on the faces of my students. The helplessness I felt when the students looked to me for answers I didn't know myself.
Shortly after that, we were faced with another scenario. A man by the name of John Muhammed and his accomplice, Lee Boyd Malvo, terrorized the Baltimore-Washington metro area through a series of sniper-type shootings. For several days, our students were not allowed outside for recess. Parents were to drop them off and pick them up at the door. (Since our school was a neighborhood school, meaning all students walked, we needed to be sure a responsible adult was there to get them.) But even then, how do you keep them safe once they leave the grounds? The shooters had chosen at random. After their capture, it was revealed that they had been in the area, within several blocks. While there was relief, there were also questions that could not be answered.
Throughout my teaching career, I have been through the two major events above. I have also dealt with numerous lock downs, a flood, blizzards, a tropical storm, and the aftermath of a hurricane. In these moments you go into autopilot mode and do what you need to do to ensure the safety of your students. If they are not with you, you wonder if they are safe. Pray they and their families are okay. Rejoice when you learn all is well. Feel pain if all isn't.
See, people who go into teaching as a career don't do it for the money. We do it because we love the children and the ability to impart education to those children. We get to know them, talk to them, teach them, correct them, hope for the best for them, pray for them, encourage them, agonize over them, joke with them, cheer for them, celebrate with them, laugh with them, cry with them, soothe them, love them. The students become like our own children. And if you have been in a building long enough, you get to watch them grow. Enjoy them coming back to visit you or seek you out on the first day of school so they can talk to you and hug you. Share tears with you when they are leaving to go off to middle school or are moving to another school/city/state. Embrace the moments in between when they pop in just to say hello, share their latest accomplishment, brag about a new sibling, want to show you their new shoes, or say they hope to have you when they get to your grade because the sibling in your class thinks you're special.
So when I think about what happened in Newtown, I can't imagine why anyone would want to hurt so many beautiful innocent children. My heart truly aches as if they were my own students. And when I think of the bravery of the teachers who tried to protect their little ones, I wonder if I would have been so forward thinking and courageous in the face of obvious terror.
I pray for all of those who have been directly affected by the actions that occurred Friday morning. It will be a long journey to healing for all of them. But I firmly believe that God will work it all out for them. For all of us.