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.