Shattered Hearts in Sandy Hook And For Us All
I am a teacher. I am a public educator.I have never been so shaken.
I was teaching when I heard that some despicable, disgusting, pathetic excuse for a human being killed 20 students and six faculty members of Sandy Hook Elementary School. As the ongoing investigation states, twenty – five minutes after the morning bell chimed, this savage beast used two 9mm handguns and another armed weapon to slaughter innocence and his own mother.
He took a gun and pointed it. Point. Blank. At his mother. At six year olds. At teachers. At innocence.
Sandy Hook Elementary School is a K-4 building, which means that its students range from five to ten.
Five, six, seven, eight, nine, and ten-year olds had to be told to cover their eyes as they escaped their school, so not to see the pools of blood and gunshot bodies of their classmates. Brothers. Sisters. Friends.
I do not teach elementary school, but the need and the desire and the effort to create a safe space in a school does not go away as students get older. In some ways, it even strengthened. I cannot count the amount of times I have stressed to my students that school should be their safe haven. I have told them, over and over again that school is a place to come to for strength, for Hope, and for direction. I cannot count the amount of times that I have told my students that their classroom, my classroom, all classrooms should be a safe space.
Yesterday, that safety was taken away.Yesterday, that safety was lost.Yesterday, twenty innocent children were killed.Children.Innocent. Children.I cannot wrap my head around this.
My heart cannot take this.
I had the privilege of starting my education career by teaching a group of amazing first and second graders at The Earth School, in New York City. That was five years ago, and those kids still stay with me to this day. I remember the wise nature of my little Chloe. The spark and zest of Celeste. I remember when Sam was able to read, on his own, for the first time. I remember the skinned knees, the bruised feelings, the tiny victories, the big smiles. Yesterday, the faces of these children kept running through my brain, nonstop. I cannot fathom losing them in such a way. I just can’t.
Any teacher, especially an elementary school teacher, will tell you that your students become like your children. My colleagues and myself refer to our students as our “kids”.
In elementary school, you grow with them in a way that’s just different from the rest of the other grades. You teach them to tie their shoes. You teach them to read. You teach them to write. You make sure they are never hungry. You make sure that they are always happy. You put the Bandaids on skinned knees. You dry their tears. You explain to them right from wrong. You hope it sticks. You give them the building blocks for their life, for a foundation rooted in honor and hope and goodness. You celebrate their victories, their milestones, their successes alongside the family. You want the best for them. You want to protect them, always.
I have no doubt that the teachers in this school did everything in their power to protect these children from this. Victoria Soto, she was my age when she was killed. Twenty-seven years old and full of live and love and passion. She loved to teach. She loved the color green. She loved her black lab. Victoria Soto, that’s a name we must remember. She thought quickly and swiftly, and saved her class, her kids. She should not have been taken from this earth. It is wrong. It is just wrong. I will forever remember her strength. Her Bravery. Her Love for her kids.
I have never met any of the faculty of Sandy Hook Elementary School, but I imagine that Dawn Hochsprung was the type of Principal that teachers love to work for, the type of Principal that you want educating your children, as she and the school psychologist, Mary Sherlach, quite literally took a bullet for their kids. I can imagine how excited Lauren Rousseau must have been to start this probationary track position. It’s what we all strive for…
To the rest of the faculty of Sandy Hook Elementary, my fellow educators, my fellow warriors, I have no doubt that they will carry the mark of this tragedy around with them for the rest of their lives. To Kaitlin Roig, as a human being, I am in awe of you. We all are. As a teacher, I am inspired by you. I pray that one day, the scars will hurt less, as I know that they will always be with you. I believe that you have shown the world a bit of light in such suffocating darkness, for we should always bring Love into our classrooms…today, tomorrow, and every day moving forward.
Elementary school students have such light, such beauty, such goodness…They are full wonder and hope and life…
Life…Life should never be taken so quickly, so early, so senselessly. It should not happen. Ever.
It is my hope that this country will work together to make sure that this never happens again. Too many times in the past ten years have too many innocent people been slain. And to those who battle over the Gun Control arguments, I hope that after this you will just stop fluffing your own egos and agendas and listen to one another.
Perhaps slapping a gun law is a quick fix, perhaps this is a much bigger problem. I imagine that there are people who have access to such guns of destruction like this shooter, but do not go on a killing rampage. I guess. But, I will never understand why people needs guns. I do not get it. I will never get it.
But, more importantly, why does someone take the lives of the innocent? Why? How?
There is evil at the heart of such massacres, and I do believe that it is our job to eradicate such darkness.
I do believe that it is time for a conversation about mental health. I do believe that the NRA and those who fight for control to listen to one another, listen to one another so that we may never again have to hear the deafening silence of the absence of children’s laughter.