I’ll admit I’m part of the problem. Sorry, guy who said wrote this truth bomb that was later mistakenly attributed to Morgan Freeman and passed around Facebook. I’m one of those terrible people you mentioned in your eloquent rant. I just can’t help it.
I’m so consumed in this tragedy that I can’t stop consuming.
I want to know about everyone at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut. I’ve looked at pictures of the young victims, I’ve read of stories about them. Learning everything from their favorite colors to extracurricular sports to personality quirks. I wish I would have known them. I wish their future spouses, employers, and college professors had known them too.
The children with their wide eyes, toothless grins, and sweet innocence have captured the mine and the rest of the world’s heart, and rightfully so. It’s devastating that their young lives have been cut so senselessly short, but I don’t want people to forget the adults, the educators of Sandy Hook, who gave their lives to protect their children.
Because yes, they were their children too.
I’ve never been a parent, but I have been a teacher. I’ve never taught young children, but I have taught young adults. My students were still growing up, still in that fragile, precarious place between childhood and adulthood. I reasoned with them through their temper tantrums. I motivated them through their apathy. I calmed them through their crying spells. I may not have sent my students off to recess, but I did send them off into the real world, which ironically seems like a much safer place than an elementary school now. I thought about them all the time when I was their teacher, and I still do, even now, when I’m not.
They are my students. They are my young adults. They are also my children.
And that’s the way the educators at Sandy Hook saw their students too. They are their children (Side note: I cannot bring myself to write “were” here. I just can’t.), and they protected them from the first day of classes until their final moments. There’s been a lot written about this tragedy, and I really don’t want to add to the cultural fray of more outrage and no action, but I want to do what I can to memorialize those teachers of Sandy Hook. The youngest teacher was my age. The oldest, my mother’s. They had a lot of life let to live, too.
We can continue lament the lax gun control laws, the culture of violence in America, the lack of adequate mental health care, but we can also celebrate the one thing that wasn’t broken that morning. The educators of Sandy Hook were not broken. Their spirits and their hearts weren’t broken. In a job, in a system that often asks too much of our teachers while giving so little back, in an era where teachers are villainized and subjugated, those at Sandy Hook showed unfathomable courage and dedication to their students.
Along with the little ones, remember the names of Victoria Soto, Anne Marie Murphy, Lauren Rousseau, Rachel Davino, Mary Sherlach, and Dawn Hochsprung, and think of the many more school employees who are left to pick up the pieces. And remember the teachers around the country who went back to work yesterday, and would have done the same thing.
PS: This is RL&A’s 100th post.