My heart is very heavy as I write this post. My eyes burn with unshed tears. I have been listening to the news of the horrific killings in the elementary school in Connecticut since yesterday afternoon and have been in shock and disbelief.
I am an elementary school teacher in New York City. Thankfully, our school had no knowledge of this tragedy until dismissal yesterday. It seems unthinkable, yet totally believable that something like this could happen in any elementary school. Here are the facts about the safety in our school:
One unarmed security guard at our main entrance.
Five other entrances that should be locked at all times.
Four transportable classrooms in our schoolyard.
All anyone wanting to enter our building through our main entrance has to do is present identification and sign in…that is it!
Parents send their children to us everyday never giving a second thought to their safety. As teachers, and most of us are mothers as well, we look after these children and their education and SAFETY is our number one concern. We have been “well schooled” in safety precautions and know what to do in an emergency. These safety precautions have been in place more rigorously since 9/11.
But let us think about the reality of a situation such as that which occurred in Connecticut. ANYONE can enter our school building if they are determined enough. Our wonderful safety officer would be no match for an armed gunman. This person would now be free to roam the school at will because we are a building of mostly women and children. Can a locked classroom door with glass-paned windows stop someone determined to enter? Where does a teacher with 28-32 students hide everyone?
Parents in our school are mostly very supportive and we love them. However there are those, and our mayor, who never let a moment go by where they don’t negatively judge us, complain about us and set a bad example for their children to follow.
Maybe this tragedy will set the record straight about school safety issues and how much school teachers will do and sacrifice for the students that have been entrusted to our care. I know in my heart that each and every member of the staff at our school would do ANYTHING to protect the lives of the children we see and teach each and every day.
I pray for those affected by the unspeakable tragedy in Connecticut…those who lost their lives and the survivors left behind. Please know that in their last moments, those children knew that they were loved and the teachers lost, died doing what they loved to do surrounded by the children who gave them so much joy.