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For the Teachers

er, Teacher, What Do You See?

I don’t want to talk about what happened.

I don’t want to talk about the boy who walked into a school last Friday morning. I don’t want to talk about his motive, or his mental state or his actions. I don’t want to talk about our gun control policies or how we stop the violence. Certainly, these discussions need to take place. But I’m no expert and — for me — now is not the time.

I want to talk about the teachers. Therein lays the hope in this deplorable, devastating crime.

I didn’t know what to say about any of this, and didn’t plan to write anything on this topic. But last night, when I let my son choose his bedtime story, he pulled “Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?” off the shelf. We snuggled in to the cozy chair in his room, and he began paging through the book while I located his pacifier and got comfortable in my spot. When I looked up, he had the book open to the page covered with the bright, colorful faces of a classroom full of children.

Children,
Children,
What do you see?

He quietly pointed to the face of a boy, and then moved his little finger around the page from girl to boy to girl to boy. My eyes welled with unexpected tears as I whispered, “Children. Those are children.”

Next, he moved backward through the book, and the Teacher’s warm, knowing face gazed up at us from the page.

Teacher,
Teacher,
What do you see?

I whispered through tears, “That is a teacher. She helps the children.”

It is a horror to think of what those children and teachers saw that day. But it is an inspiration to think of what those teachers did that day.

Our society is woefully remiss in celebrating the men and women who shape our children. We send our nation’s young to classrooms like the ones in Sandy Hook every day, and in each one, there is an underpaid teacher pulling off a minor miracle. These people inspire creativity and curiosity in our kids while managing disputes, confiscating cell phones and administering discipline. It is truly amazing what they do.

Today, I want to talk about those heroic teachers who shielded the children from harm with their very bodies. I want to thank those who locked their classroom doors, kept calm and did all they could to keep their students safe.

Would I have thought to read to the children to soothe them? Would I have been able to keep my voice even as gunshots echoed through the halls? Would I have had the foresight to tell them I loved them in case those were the last words they heard? I doubt it.

At least for these first few days, let’s talk only about the teachers and the kids. Let’s remember them, honor them and mourn their too-soon departure. Let’s send our love to those who survived this horrific incident and turn off the TV so the media trucks will leave Sandy Hook. Let’s switch the channel when we see a schoolchild being interviewed, whether their parent allows it or not.

Let’s thank our teachers every chance we get.

Until I’m better able to wrap my head around the immense tragedy that happened last Friday, I will focus on the stories of heroism and hope. I will be thankful for the parents who saw their children come home unharmed and the teachers who made their school proud.

As for the incredible grief I feel for those parents whose children did not come home: I’m not yet ready to face it. It’s too awful to think about the precious babies who didn’t know such horror existed until they saw it. I’ll save that for another day.

Today is for the teachers.

Thank you.

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21 responses »

  1. Well said, friend. These kinds of events were always horrible, but having a kid of my own makes it…different.

    Reply
  2. Beautiful. Thank you for sharing these words. It was tough saying bye to my 7-year old at his school today…but I too am so thankful for the teachers who guide, instruct, love, and protect. Newtown, CT, is one town over from where I grew up…a friend’s mom is the superintendent there…more than a thousand miles away, but very close to home.

    Blessings to you as you mourn, too. –Alison

    Reply
    • We are all connected, for sure — it’s amazing. I can’t imagine having to send my child to school today. On one hand, I’m so thankful that time has not yet come; on the other, I can only imagine what we’ll be dealing with in a few years with the way things are trending. Best to you and your family during this sad time.

      Reply
  3. I can really appreciate your thought process and the ultimate angel you took. Those teachers and their action are amazing. I would like to think that I would stand in front of my students as well. I hope I never have to find out.

    Reply
  4. Very well said!
    I am trying to avoid the incident completely, which is dumb because it’s all over TV, radio and the Internet. Someday, I will post something about what happened. When my brain can function over my intense emotional response.

    Reply
    • Yes, that’s pretty much how I feel as well. The news media definitely doesn’t help during a time like this, but it’s hard to stay away. It’ll be a long time before I’m able to find any sense in this tragic act.

      Reply
  5. Stacey, Stacey….So well written, of course I cried…. There are no words to express how sad I feel about this incident….God bless all the families and may love surround Newtown, Ct.

    Reply
  6. As a teacher, mother, grandmother, daughter and child of God, my heart hurts and tears could not be stopped when I read your well-written thoughts. Finding a way to look at the precious faces helps so much while focusing on heroism and hope. God bless you!

    Reply
  7. I appreciate your words, as I’ve really struggled since the tragedy. There’s no way to fathom such events, and I have allowed myself to get sucked into the media’s non-stop “story” and don’t feel it’s contributing to my grief or healing, as much as it’s just bombarding the terror and torment – – and painful images and quotes. The media has become a drug on this and other horrific events, and I think it’s time I go to rehab, and turn it off. There were many beautiful, loving, amazing teachers in Sandy Hook on Friday, and they made a difference. A much more healthy direction to channel our energy, compassion, support and love.

    Reply
    • I agree — I’m trying hard to stay away from the news reports, but it’s not easy. The seductive headlines are everywhere, but the stories behind them provide no relief. Best to you and your family.

      Reply
  8. As a teacher, I’m so appreciative of this post. I’ve had a hard time keeping it together over the past few days. It’s really made me question everything about myself, my job, etc. I don’t know how we got to this point in society, but I hope we can find our way out.

    Reply
  9. Oh you know I love this entry! mommy Jan a ex preschool teacher!

    Reply
  10. what a beautiful comment!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Reply
  11. Stacey – I came to your blog today hoping that you’d written something. Thank you for doing so! It is the most amazing thing really…the fact that I CANNOT SHAKE this story. It lives in my head and I think about it constantly. It won’t go away. I wasn’t a mom on 9/11 when equally horrific things happened to the children of other mothers. But, now that I’m a mom, I simply can’t let it go. My eyes well up with tears and there is a lump in my throat all the time. The teachers last Friday were heroic in every sense of the word. So were those beautiful children – the victims and those who survived.

    Reply
  12. I came across this and had to stop.My daughter is a kindergarten teacher and this rocked me to my core.I want to thank you for touching on such a horrible subject.I couldn’t even think about it because it was so scary for me.

    Reply

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