Yesterday, everyone I know who watched, listened, read, or otherwise absorbed the news…
had their world rocked.
We watched in horror as the story of a tragedy began to unfold.
A story that took place in the hallways and classrooms of an elementary school in a town I had never heard of and probably will never visit,
but suddenly felt like was MY town.
My whole life I have felt like teachers were heroes. Probably because I was surrounded by them.
My grandparents were teachers (& farmers too).
My dad was a teacher (& a coach, & a principal, & an administrator).
My sister & brother in-law, 2 nephews, 2 nieces, & a cousin — all stand in front of a room full of students of various ages.
Some of my dearest friends are teachers & my children have each had at least one teacher who has literally changed his/her life (mostly it was the same teacher – 2nd grade rocked!).
All of these people, who I love with my whole heart, have stood in doorways welcoming students, done their time on the playground & in the lunchroom, and wondered if they could face another day standing in front of classrooms full of ants-in-their-pants students trying to get their point across, and then, the very next day had moments of deep connection with a student who finally “gets” it (whatever it might be).
Yep, my beloved teachers have seen it all.
While the teachers in my world have told me stories that have made me laugh my head off as well as move me deeply,
none has told me a story like yesterday’s.
My grandparents told me stories of lunches in pales and long treks thru the snow to a one room classroom…
not a story of hurling their bodies between their students and a bullet.
My Dad has told me stories of paddling students & difficult teacher negotiations, but never a story of school lockdowns and assault rifles.
My sister has never had to hide her 1st graders in cabinets so a masked intruder wouldn’t harm them, AND
My nephew has never had to help his students escape out a window in the back of his classroom or barricade the door.
Where would we be without our teachers?
These men & women who walk their underpaid selves into under-resourced classrooms every morning and spend the day teaching our kids how to read, write, solve problems, sit quietly, be a part of a group, listen to directions, stand in a line, follow directions, share, raise their hand, ask a question, participate, and… LEARN.
They’re not perfect. I get that.
Some of them stay too long.
Some of them have lost their passion.
Some of them have forgotten the time & the reason they became a teacher in the first place.
But lots of them are really good people.
Doing really good work, no matter what roadblocks or parameters the school system (or the government) puts in front of them.
And they have names. Names that mean a lot to me.
Carl, Marjorie, Jim, Dawn, David, Matthew, Abbey, Jessica, Karen, Jeff, Sam, Richele, Christy, Fran, Judy, Brad, Tina, Pam, Ed…
My list could go on and on.
But there is another list of names I find myself thinking about tonight…
Names that were written on desks and doorplaques.
Names that won’t ever again be called over to the reading corner or in from recess, or ever again asked if it’s OK to go to the bathroom (for the 27th time that morning).
And so, in honor of all the heroes in my life & yours,
and the grieving hearts in NewTown, CT & in every corner of our country, their names…
The children: Charlotte -6, Daniel -7, Olivia -6, Josephine -7, Ana M. -6, Dylan -6, Madeleine -6, Catherine -6, Chase -7, Jesse -6, James -6, Grace -7, Emilie -6, Jack -6, Noah-6, Caroline -6, Jessica -6, Avielle -6, Benjamin -6, Allison -6.
The staff: Rachel -29, Dawn -47, Anne -52, Lauren -30, Mary -56, Victoria -27.