Sunday, December 16, 2012
Sunday At Home: Sandy Hook Tragedy
I can't bear to think about putting up a regular normal post this weekend. Because it is not a regular, normal weekend. It is a time of great tragedy and sorrow. So many of us have been touched by the events that occurred on Friday. It is unimaginable, yet it happened.
I have worked at the same elementary school for twenty years. I teach in a CT elementary school, about an hour away from Newtown. You see, elementary schools are happy, active places...always moving and changing. There is a feeling of enthusiasm, love and innocence. If you just stop and look, you see kids reading books together, working on art projects, learning about basketball, or holding hands as they deliver the attendance. During all those routine tasks and going-ons, you see smiling children who love to be surrounded by classmates. It is meant to be a friendly environment where we teach kids to build enough confidence to take risks in learning and in life. There is a feel that is unique to that age group...they aren't yet aware of too much homework or cliches that form at the later grades.
It is innocent and pure. Teachers love the kids and they love back.
I will never understand why someone would destroy that atmosphere, rip away that innocence. It is hard not to imagine how it must have been...
How do we return to school, send our kids to school? We feel like something has been taken away. I think we can honor those who have been lost. We can walk into the buildings...send our kids in and know that we will fight to keep the environment positive, nurturing and as friendly as ever. Adults can know the gravity of what happened, but can hold that suffering within themselves and put on a brave, joyous face for the kids. We can be resources if they are hurting and guides to help them move past it. We can speak with kindness and understand the power of our words.
This tragedy brings up issues like gun control, alternatives for helping others deal with mental illness...even acceptance of other's differences, regardless of disability. It starts when they are young. Elementary school age.
We are living in an age of teacher accountability and educational reform. Let's do just that, be accountable and facilitate reform. I just hope the leaders in these initiatives, which are happening on a national and local level, realize that reform is more than just performance scores, universal assessments, and rankings. Reform is being able to address the social and emotional beings that exists within that child. It is about building the community that allows them to flourish on all levels.
As a parent, it brings up issues involving the violence that surrounds children. Get rid of the violent video games that desensitize them...provide boundaries and discipline on a daily basis. Kids crave that routine, want structure. It is our charge to love them within an environment where they know wrong from right.
I hope meaningful action occurs...that some positive can rise out of the ashes. I know I have been hugging my kids with a different sense of urgency.
When I walk into the doors tomorrow, my role and the roles of all my colleagues is more critical than ever. We will do as we always have...just with a heightened level of awareness. The mindset which drives all decisions has been and will always revolve around one statement...it is all about the kids.
Sending many prayers for the families and the community members of Newtown, CT...