This month, I opened up about some of my teaching experiences. Those stories are just some of the many I have had over the years. There’s the year I helped two families find new homes with my friend’s help at school. That was a really good year because the students were resilient and felt safe. They were clothed, fed, and warm. They had loving parents who had, through a series of events, lost their homes for one reason or another. The years that were the hardest were when I didn’t know if I would ever see a particular student again. Would he or she be safe? Would they graduate? Go to college? That was not for me to determine.
Throughout the years, I have always told my students the same thing. You are safe here. That changed the day of the Sandy Hook school shooting. I briefly wrote about it back then, and I will only briefly touch on it here. I could not even begin to process the information that night. I cried for so long my soul hurt. I thought about things that I don’t want to think about again. When we got back to work, we did not feel safe. We had meetings and were told to lock our doors. We had more drills called lock downs and we didn’t smile for months. I got worse off because of stress and felt paranoid at being so far away from my children’s schools should someone need me. I was, quite literally, a nervous wreck.
When you lose the feeling of safety, it’s like something has shattered. A writer/blogger/page owner friend of mine wrote a post the other night that really resonated with me. She doesn’t know I am going to share, but I am. Here is her post called Living with the Stress of the World. I knew she was right. For many years, I felt the same way after Columbine, 9/11 and Boston. I began to feel less safe. For me, there were lots of prayers in the months to follow these events. There were hugs, and nods of understanding to other teachers after every single shooting we heard about. And we prayed it would not happen to us. We began to feel a spark of hope. As each year fades into the next, we gain some bit of safety back until we feel whole again. Let’s move from the old to the new, as one community. Let’s learn to trust each other a little bit more and heal our old wounds.
P.S. To this day, I do not watch the news…I read about the events when necessary.