Daily Archives: December 18, 2012

Thoughts

Today I will finish up packing.  Ready our sweet 13 Month old for his 9th flight-the first of which the hubs gets to go with- hip-hip-horray! The only way we can see family is fly… or drive 27 hours through three mountain passes, of which during the Holidays is wayyy too dangerous.  The weekend is usually when I “catch-up”, on sleep, on chores, on life in general.  Nightmares have engulfed our house.  The Hubs & I held hands, sobbing, as the news broke on Friday.

The teacher in me wanted to teach.  Wanted to write up a lesson plan, on the facts, timeline, history, what we can do, how we can help, how we can cope…

As a Civics teacher we discussed extremely hard topics, many of which my students chose.  After proving they could debate, without yelling, name calling, slurs, with carefully thought out-researched- facts and examples(and frankly I never had any problems with them-ever)- they could be on the side of their choice.  Sometimes this meant 20 verse 2 on Nuclear War Sanctions for Iran… and if that happened I hopped onto the team that had two-but only if they asked.  Sometimes the 2 held their ground. Each time we discussed the “hard” topics we were able to talk about what their parents believed, grandparents and perhaps why they themselves believed <fill in the blank>. Throughout the years, not one student knew how I felt about anything…. Democrat-Republican-Gun Control- Wars… As a teacher, a teacher of Civics, I thought it would be a great injustice for them to see bias in my teaching.  Each year we held a vote on the last day, as yearbooks were being handed out, on what party-or which way(right or left) I leaned.  Every year it was split down the middle.  Job well done I told myself.  8th Graders need to be able to form their own opinions, know why they believe the way they do, and be able to stand up for themselves.  My beliefs didn’t matter.  Save for two days of the year.

September 10th and 11th.

Those two days were raw.

The first year I taught, my students were in 2nd grade on 9/11/2001.  We discussed what they remembered.  We had a timeline that I typed up that went through every action that happened on that day- every detail. Political Cartoons were shown-they were not funny- but they are a part of our political discourse and a way for current events to be viewed-discussed-in art.  We discussed the long-term ripple effect of 9/11- Victims-Wars- Legislation-Lack of Privacy- Patriot Act- Cancer Prognosis of Rescue Workers- Heroes- Family-Airport Security-Unity of United States.

And then we watched the Documentary that was completed by two French brothers… they wanted to follow a New York Fireman from the Academy through their first year with Squad.  Three months in on 9/11 they were the only ones that were  in the towers-the first ones in the towers-with their Fire Squad-they did not film some things(that a news crew might want to shoot) for in their words, “Some things just are not meant to be seen.”  Our class would watch the film in its’ entirety.  Tears, hugs, and respectful, thoughtful discussion would follow.

I was truly emotionally exhausted when we finished with the last class of the day on 9/11.  As a teacher you are supposed to be strong, a role model, well- on 9/11 during the film, as the Towers fall-one while the film crew is still in it- I sobbed-openly-every-single-time.  Every year.  I don’t think this made me weak, lesser of a teacher-at least I hope not.  Just real. Raw. Truthful.

On Saturday- On Sunday- I planned over and over what I would do if I was still teaching.  How I would discuss the tragedy with students.  What I would say… the history of violence, the history of mental health issues, and how to cope with evil in our society.

As I sat next to my Husband Friday night, crying, I kept shaking my head.  Why?!? They are babies. WHY?!?

One of the discussions that I had with my classes each year was a disaster plan.  Great school, great area, great students… but you need a back-up.  I pleaded with our Principal and the HS Principal to do a drill-a disaster drill- but they assured me that we are safe and don’t have to worry about that.  Mind you, I taught at a Prestigious Private School.  Public Schools- since Columbine- have had strategies and training for schools and teachers for “worst-case scenarios”.

We went through a “Mock” Drill 1-2 times a year in my class.  It was taken seriously.  The door would be barricaded with tables and chairs(thrown if necessary) and we would all lock ourselves in my work-closet-granted piled on top of one-another.  I would-if possible slip a green piece of paper under the door- to notify SWAT/Police that students were present-or RED if we had injured or worse. And if necessary there was a full-size fridge to help barricade the work closet.

Why did I feel the need to do this?  I grew up with Columbine, Jonesboro, and an armed madman trying to enter our High School on 9/11/2001.

My heart aches for the families of Newtown.  I am worried about what the future holds.  For the younger generations.  As a parent I ache for assurance that this won’t happen again.  My sister had friends that were marched out of the Mall last week  by SWAT teams in Oregon while buying their gifts for family, for Christmas- she was just ten minutes away.  Students of mine were at the January shooting of Representative Giffords.

What are teachers supposed to do?  Principals?  School Districts?  What are we supposed to do as parents? What are we supposed to do?

I know in my heart-that the teachers in Newtown, the Principal- what they did- saved lives.  They are heroes.  True heroes.

Something has to change.

*Comments turned off-for this was written from the heart.*