I heard the tragic news about the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School from my mother. While I was driving home from work, a middle school on the west bank of New Orleans, I called my mother to tell her the happenings of my day at school; she told me the news of the shooting in Connecticut. Words cannot express the heartfelt sorrow I feel for the victims, their families, and their community. Acts of violence that involve the innocent and the helpless are so difficult for me to process. That Friday, I found myself avoiding the news and conversations about the shootings.
I had been noticing posts in my Facebook news feed of a beautiful little girl in a pale blue dress posing next to a sheer curtain. This little girl was one of the victims, Ana Marquez-Greene, whose life was taken all too soon. Ana’s bright eyes and beautiful curly hair reminded me of my daughter. I thought of what her morning might have been like, she probably woke up to a parent coaxing her out of her sleep, she probably ate breakfast at the kitchen table with a sibling or waited for her school bus hand in hand with a loved one. Once she arrived at school, she probably was greeted by her teacher, Victoria Soto, and followed her normal classroom routines, while smiling at a classmate. Each time I came to the part in my mind where the gunman entered into little Ana’s classroom to steal the innocence and joy of her day, my mind literally froze; it’s too difficult for me to comprehend.
I stopped and thought of the safety of my own students. These acts of violence are happening more and more at schools. That tragedy has shown our nation that elementary schools are not exempt, therefore no school is exempt. I thought of what I would do if I heard a gunman coming down the hall outside of my classroom. Would I lock the door? Where would I hide my students? My class is an open space. Would my students be able to escape out the window? No, the metal shutters would prevent them from doing so. Would I be able to reason with the shooter? Would I be able to act with courage like Victoria Soto, Dawn Hochsprung, Mary Sherlach, Lauren Rousseau, and Anne Murphy?
My mind, however, kept going back to precious Ana and the other innocent children that were killed that sorrowful Friday. They never have the opportunity to dance at their proms, proudly wear a cap and gown, marry their soul mates, or hold their firstborns. Their lives were unfairly shortened, their families were robbed of a loved one and our nation was robbed of their talents and potentials.
I do not know how we can, as a country, prevent these heinous acts. I do not know how we can, as education professionals, make our children feel comfortable at school with these tragedies looming in their minds. What I do know is my prayers are with the families of the victims. Prayer is the only thing I can offer to ease their pain. My prayer is that they find peace and solace in the memories of their loved ones. My prayer is that they can in some way begin to heal.