250 elementary students filed out to their assigned ‘safe areas’ and stood in the cold. Chattering teeth, giggling as arms were stuck inside shirts to keep warm, the kids delightfully jumped in the mud. They didn’t mind the interrupted snack time for this little adventure.
15 teachers stood in front of their lined up charges, holding their ‘Crisis Event Folders’ with processes, procedures, and lists of what to do for every conceivable crisis. No smiles here, just silence.
We were silent as the images of the recent school shooting in Parkland, FL filled our thoughts. We were silent as we thought of ways to barricade our 6-year-old charges behind the metal desk, or in the coat closet or under the craft table. Silently we were imagining if the ‘Story Corner’ would hold all 18 of us as it wasn’t within eyesight of a door or window. We were teaching in this new and very violent world.
Teachers gave their lives so kids could live. The football coach shielded them with his body. Upon graduating from college, ready for the classroom, it never occurred I would be a soldier on ‘the front lines’. I didn’t join the Army. I joined a classroom.
I’ve wondered what to write. Words seem so inadequate, so cheap, too easy in the wake of the largest mass murder in a school. I tried in a tweet, the forced economy of the words in no way diminishing my grief.
Another. Another school shooting. Another means one too many.
Brokenness at every turn. Brokenness in the lack of mental health care for struggling adolescents who turn into murderous adults. Brokenness in a society where guns are easier to get than certain cold meds. Brokenness in Community where malignant separateness is commonplace. Brokenness in choosing politics over pragmatic solutions. Brokenness in a school system that hasn’t changed in over 100 years. Broken kids navigating a culture of death and violence instead of life and love.
Tonight we are all a little more broken. I pray for no more ‘another’.