December 15, 2012

Our Own Backyard

After yesterday, things will never be the same.

The news.
I found out about the tragedy at 2:00 from a whisper in the hallway. "Did you hear?" What? Children shot? Immediately I said, "Not in Connecticut." It was here it was right in our backyard. Babies and teachers dead. How had this been going on 45 minutes from our school and I was carrying on as normal?

The panic.
I locked my door immediately. My Kindergarteners asked to use the bathroom. "No." When they couldn't hold it any more (lunch and gym then an hour of art) I was so scared to let them go and watched them down the hallway. Irrational? I don't know? Remember the twin towers had more then one attack. We had no information. It was 2:00 shouldn't we know more? Why had we not gone into lockdown? Was this true? I scrambled to get my phone and look up the events. It was true.

The sadness.
As soon as I got in the car I couldn't hold back any longer. I picked my daughter up at day care and she too was crying, inconsolable. What had happened? We held each other. She was pushed down by another girl and bumped her head. Of course. It's what we teach every day BE NICE. CARE FOR EACH OTHER. Then this?!

The confusion.
I hear counselors saying, "Tell your children it's an isolated incident by a crazy person. There is no danger." But I don't believe that. Of course I would say it, it's what our mother's told us. We know there is more to this. Shootings in malls, movie theaters, colleges, schools, the list goes on. These were just babies. Someone looked at these babies and did this.

Now I'm starting to feel let down, angry. Why have we not addressed these issues in our country's educational system? Why do the arts get looked at like a second rate subject (they are not mandated in Connecticut) when it is the only subject left that teaches true communication (most other subjects have been silenced with standardized testing pressure) and is the soul work of the schools? Why is there no Peace Education taught in a formal way?

I must look for a leader now in this time when a tsunami of change is welling inside of me. First I will look to King who because of and despite all his humanity is one of our greatest leaders. Step up Mr. President, I pray you have the courage to stand on the shoulders of our greatest leaders King, Ghandi, Mother Theresa, the Dalai Lama, to change the way we educate our children. Our educational system is broken. Our political system is in the same state as our economy. Our country needs to wake up. This is not one crazy person there are so many incidents of violence around the country. The arts and peace education is now more then ever.

For now I will share with you this quote from Martin Luther King from Strength to Love in 1963

The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy. The true neighbor will risk his position, his prestige and even his life for the welfare of others.

Thank you and god bless all the teachers, staff, law enforcement and medical professionals who risked themselves in the face of hate out of love for our children.  


pecas said...

Bless you for your wise words, from Spain it is hatd to understand such a tragedy...I am so sorry!

Paintedpaper said...

I thought of you yesterday. Not knowing where your school was located. I thought of Stella, of you and how your family must feel! I too am just not feeling safe, because I work in the office every morning, I do the morning announcements, I deal with the upset parents who come into the office ready to fight because of something that has happened between them and their ex- husband. I have always been in "LockDown" mode, my room is always locked, but now this is really unsettling. Hugs, Prayers for all.

Phyl said...

No words...
Driving to Boston in a few days to hug my baby.

Last week I subbed in a school where I saw no security procedures. There was no posted lock-down procedure, the doors were all unlocked, parents picked up kids at the end of the day in chaos, no sign-out procedure or lists or anything. When I came home, that was the first thing I noted. Now I don't know if I would go back to that school.

Ms Novak said...

Thank You for this post.

Unknown said...

Thank you.

Spain seems like a much more peaceful place! I would love to visit sometime for the change of pace. It is such a rat race in America most days;)

Painted Paper: THank you for thinking of us. I think I would have the same feelings no matter where I was in the country. I can't imagine you having to deal with upset parents every morning. I have a lock down key permanently by my door but don't lock my door when students are inside (I thought it was better for administrators to feel welcome to come in but now it is not an option. We will all be unsettled until we see major change addressing these issues of gun laws and educational reform to help students like this who might have fallen through the cracks.

Phyl Thank you for always being there and creating such a network of art teachers who I feel I can go to and share this with. I am with you on not going back to that school. I thought our school had extreme safety measures in place (we have a bullet proof glass entry way and a tag swipe system) but it is our classrooms that must be locked I think, unfortunately because there is always a way to get in. There are many ways we can make even our very secure school more secure and it starts with communication. I am hoping on Monday to get some of that communication from administration. We all could be more secure as a community. It is a place to start. I am personally needing an acknowledgement of the events within the teacher community in a formal way and I will ask for it.

Katie Morris said...

I am glad that I didn't hear anything about it until I was about to leave school and all the students were gone because I couldn't even get through the headline without crying. I can imagine the sense of panic you probably felt with not having the information and having the school so close.

Unknown said...

I agree if it wasn't close to you I'd rather not hear when I had the kids. It's very hard to hold back emotions for a long time, we've had to do it before. I definitely need to have my phone in my pocket ON and fully charged all day from now on. I try not to have it on during instruction but no one calls me anyways, definitely can't follow a no cell phone policy in our public schools anymore we should all have them on us.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Erica, for your thoughtful and measured comments on the insanity occuring in our country. I have a fear and tightness in my chest that won't go away. I keep thinking about those innocent little children and their brave teachers and I cry, unashamedly. I hope this time, those with the power to change easy access to firearms will finally have the courage to do something about it. I thank God that you and Stella are safe and sound and please hug her for me.


Deaf Art Teacher said...

Thank you for sharing your thoughts. Friday was extremely hard for me as well. I have family members in the neighboring towns and I work in another state and received text messages early in the day. My mother and sister had their school under lockdown. I had to hold myself together all day barely able to function. After grieving all weekend, and trying to ignore the news, I came into the art classroom again on Monday - prepared to be a better teacher. The art classroom, I realized was 45 minutes of peace for each student and staff member who enter. So I wrote a post - "Art as Healing" Thank you again for sharing your post -

Rachel said...

Thank you.
so much.
Your words are the ones I have been trying to formulate.

Unknown said...

Me too Pat, I am hoping that our President takes action because we need leadership on the issues of educational reform, stricter gun laws, and mental health issues especially insurance coverage. I am worried when I read what some gun enthusiast think about government buy back of guns. They definitely see their guns as a healthy investment that they will not part with. Gun culture in the south especially (from my observation) is thriving. I just can't understand why people would want bigger and badder weapons? Must be compensation for something, all I'm sayin'

Deaf Art Teacher
I'm so thankful you wrote that you are still grieving because so am I. I know I will be able to go about my life, but I just don't get why the earth has not stopped at least for a day after our children died? I am still grieving and will be although it will be comforting to be around the kids tomorrow as they are excited for Christmas I'm sure! I hope to share in their excitement. I know I won't be able to help but be excited with them! I love your post. Thank you for putting your thoughts out there. Glad everyone in your family is safe. I will be following your blog as you move forward with your work.

Rachel Thank you for your comment. I know there are many typos but I just find this is my place to ramble. In a measured way of course (wink wink, Pat;)