My husband and I have worked out an unofficial system when it comes to getting a hold of me when he has our children at home to be in charge of and I have my students at school to boss around. If he rings once, I can get to it when conventient. Twice means it needs to take priority. Three times is an emergency.
Today on my way out the door I dug the phone out of my bag for the second set of rings. I am glad I did. My husband was the one who told me that the school shooting that made national news was close enough to our house to re-route the traffic down our street. The school shooting that happened today doesn’t just strike close to home because I work at a school and believe so fully in public education. This one struck close to home because it is literally our home school. McNair Elementary school is our school. It is the school we are zoned for and are seriously considering sending our girls to.
I can’t quite wrap my brain around it. Someone walked into my neighborhood school weilding an AK47. Not a school, my school, my neighbors school. The school where the girl next door goes. The little girl who leaves homemade bracelets on our front step for my daughters and asks often if Juliet can come out and play. The school that our Bible study volunteers at, that is the school that is on the national news. Someone brought a gun into the school of the teacher who emailed me two days ago about the possibility of having some art packets pre-cut for her kindergarten classroom. McNair is the school we are talking about. A school that I belong to.
Is nothing sacred anymore? Is not even the place where a 5 year old sits on a rug to reads stories considered off limits to the violence? How do I send my girls to a school where a man with an AK47 once showed up? How do I show up tomorrow and teach the elements of short fiction with my door unlocked, or God forbid, open? How does anyone?
I don’t know. I don’t have the answers to any of those questions. I only have what my heart is screaming. Please don’t let one crazy gunmen mar the reputation of a school that is fighting systemic poverty and winning every single day.
McNair Early Learning Academy is a school that fights the good fight every single day. Those teachers are making water from rocks, just look at the way they handled the emergency and got every single student to safety. They didn’t sign up for a gunmen, or escorting their kids through backyards as they made sure everyone stayed calm and alive. They didn’t sign up for the stress and the triggers they will fight for the rest of the year. But they will show up tomorrow and the next day, because they are teachers, and that is what is best for their kids.
It feels so dark today, with the gunmen from my neighborhood invading my neighborhood school. I knew it was dark when far worse tragedies happened, and I felt the darkness there for a time. But somehow this, for me, is different. Maybe it is selfish, suddenly caring about tragedies that happen in my own backyard. Maybe it is normal. I don’t know. I only know how I feel, even if I shouldn’t feel that way.Maybe this is just my burden to bare.
I have a poster in my classroom, Martin Luther King is the anchor of my freedom fighters wall. It has on the bottom my most favorite MLK quote “Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.” I want so desperately to poke a whole in this darkness, to fill it with even just a pin prick of light. I can’t help but think of the teachers, or the year they now face, of the fear they will have to swallow as they fight that same fear in their kids. I want to love them, I want to paint them in light.
I’m headed to Dunkin’ Donuts tomorrow (Wednesday is donut day for this carpool) I am going to buy a gift card, just to drop off to the teacher we already know, just to let her know I am praying for her, that I love her and what she does with her students. I am well aware that five dollars isn’t much, but it is all I know how to do right now. It is the only hole I can poke in this darkness.
If you would like to join me in loving on these amazing teachers feel free to email me or go to the school website and pick a teacher to send a thank you note to maybe even a gift card to an office supply store or coffee shop.
When it comes to school shootings I just can’t. As someone who lived with the aftermath and during-ness of Columbine I just can’t.
My heart aches. Just hurts.
This should be sent to the newspaper. You captured so much in your writing. Love that you are in my life with this blog. Keep strong!!
Oh, I know what you mean. Last Friday, at the school my kids are zoned for, a man abducted a teacher at knife-point out of the school building. Thankfully, she was not harmed, but I couldn’t help but think of how it all could have gone so differently.
Dang. I have no words – only prayers for all of us. Lord, have mercy!
Our daughter teaches science in a middle school in Houston, TX. (Newly moved there last month.) Even the little town of Prosser, WA where she used to teach had emergency procedures in place, blackouts and the rest for such a contingency.
When she was at Whitworth University in Spokane, WA long before she entered the classroom as the teacher, she got a firsthand look at the possibilities. One of her professors took the class to a black church in downtown for a bit of “cross-cultural” experience. The woman’s son was visiting as well and met her there. He stood up and introduced himself when there was an invitation to visitors to do so.
But when the sermon started, he stood up again and started shooting. Nobody in the church was wounded, but he went outside as the police arrived and started shooting at them. They call it suicide by cop.
I can’t imagine what that professor went through. My daughter said she learned that you aren’t safe anywhere.
Your post says that (and more) so well. Thank you for posting and I’m praying for peace for you and the entire town, particularly the ones at the school and, as you said, your neighbors. It is stunning that we have to have such precautions in our schools dedicated to helping our kids to enter the world equipped…it is so sad that “equipped” must needs incorporate such desperate circumstances.
There’s another aspect I encourage you to explore: forgiveness. There’s a trust that comes with that one, as well.
I know of a famous gunman who got married two weekends ago. His guilt returns with every incident like this, but I’m amazed, impressed, and grateful to God as I watch him put his life back together…a little at a time.
The crazy gunman is crazy for a reason. There is a lot of pain inside him. Yes, prayers go to the teachers and children. Still, that gush of prayers drops to a trickle exactly where it may be needed most.
Just an idea for a gifted writer.
Thank you for this suggestion. It resonates deeply. I now know his name and will begin praying for him, for peace for him.
At a sad and frightening time like today, the words of Martin Luther King and our own Bibles are most difficult to remember, but remembered or not, they are true..Thank you for reminding me…When Light came into the world darkness could not overcome it….and I am praying for all the people at Ronald McNair Elementary, and thank you for adding to my thoughts about the day. There is so much love at that school, as evidenced by their webpage, and by the community, as shown by you, that this dark point will be prayed into light. Let’s have faith and keep praying.
Wow, Abby. So scary, hard, unfathomable, really. . . except it happened. And it happened to you, to your neighborhood, to your local school, to people you know and care about. Many, many blessings as you continue to process it all. I am sure that Dr. Henley is right, but I’m guessing it will take a lot of work to get there.
Oh wow. My heart is beating faster just reading this. I would be so freaked. I love your fighter spirit. And your writing here? Breathtaking.
Love you, Abby – and our grans. Love those teachers and staff. Love those students. May Jesus’ love,joy and, peace surround all.
Reading this my heart breaks.
[Warning rant follows:]
As you know I am totally about the 2nd Amendment but an AK47. What value is their in allowing AK47s to circulate in Society that would out weigh this: A young man (again it is a young man) of questionable mental stability( or worse he is completely sane don’t know) can walk a loaded AK into an elementary school. Lets put packages of C-4 up next to the chewing gum and armored trucks complete with mounted 50 Cals in the used car lots. .
[End of rant]
I thank Jesus that when the shooter came he had one of His own posted and ready. The Office Gal who touched the shooter with His light and talked the young man into surrender talked to Diane Sawyer on the National news. She mentioned that while she was engaging this young man she was praying with her mind and in the spirit (following the Apostle Paul’s example, 1 Corinthians 14:15). After she talked him into putting all his weapons on the floor and lying face down and the police cuffed him she prayed Thank you Jesus.
Thank you Jesus for this warrior in your kingdom who risked her life to speak life into this young man Hell bent on distributing death to 5 year olds. Amen
Thanks for these reflections, Abby. I can’t believe this hit so close to home. Thank you for writing context for understanding tragedy and for always promoting light in the darkness!
Pingback: Teaching is an Act of Faith | Accidental Devotional