As a mom and a teacher, my heart is completely broken for the families and friends affected by a tragedy that occurred last Friday when a gunman broke into a school in Newtown, CT, and killed 20 children and six staff members. Totally senseless and unfathomable. And incredibly heart breaking.
I've thought of it often as I have taught my kids in school. As I've watched them learn and smile and sing and play. And wondered where we would go and what I would do if something were to happen. I find myself very aware of our surroundings and being more on guard than I ever have been.
Jeremy and I had a talk with Riley and Madi about what happened. We had a call from the school asking kids and staff to wear green and white to support the elementary school where this happened. Knowing that they wouldn't need all the information, we gave them what we thought were the key points of what happened and left out as much detail as possible. Didn't want the kids at school to be the ones to share the information they knew with them especially if they hadn't heard anything at all before going to school.
Jeremy focused on making sure Riley knew that it was a sad day for them, but that the children were with Jesus in heaven - safe, secure, loved and happy. That Jesus was holding them and they were safe.
We let Riley ask questions if she wanted to. She asked how the guy got in the school. Good question as she knows our school procedures and how everyone needs to sign in and that there are locked doors. We have tried to limit ourselves to media coverage ourselves and never watch the news on tv anyway so our info was somewhat limited as well. We simply said that we weren't sure how he got in, that our school has plans in place to keep her safe and that this kind of thing is very rare. That it doesn't have to happen here just because it happened there.
I hate that we have to have these kinds of discussions with our kids. I hate that evil is so prevalent and that we even have to think about these situations.
Today after school we held a staff meeting to discuss and get firm our lockdown procedure. One of the saddest and longest meetings we have had all year.
Tomorrow will be tough. The students will have a lockdown drill in the morning and their Christmas parties in the afternoon. I am praying that the students do not get scared or upset during or after the lockdown; that as teachers, we can have the wisdom to stay calm as well and to say what is needed, but nothing more; that we can truly keep our children safe and be heroes for them if the time ever came.
After the meeting, I cleaned out both closet floors. Was not a big deal. Just had to rearrange some things to make space for such an emergency or drill. I blocked out how many people could fit inside of each closet to make sure that there was space for an entire class of 25 plus. I made sure that any instruments would not be able to be played or heard if students were standing next or near to them. During the drill tomorrow, if I have students, we now have a more secure place than compared to hiding under tables out in the open.
Though I have to say this is not something I ever thought I'd be doing to prepare for my school day. Cleaning closets out to hide students in was not something I enjoyed and made me so angry and sad for what happened in CT. And honestly, even a little fearful of what could happen here.
I can only pray that I would be as self-sacrificing and selfless and others-centered as many of the teachers in CT. That I would place my kids first and save them. I truly believe I would. Though I pray none of us ever have to go through it.