Within weeks of my first year of teaching I was confronted with a room full of 6th graders on September 11, 2001. For the first time, I realized that I had the awesome responsibility of keeping children safe in the face of tragedy. On that day, with only a few weeks of teaching under my belt, I looked at the faces of children who were looking at me for answers, for comfort and for guidance when things felt scary and out of control.
On Monday, that feeling came back but this time it hit even closer to home as my staff and I worked with our local police and fire departments to run through active shooter scenarios. The thought of a shooter entering our school and putting our children in danger is terrifying. We don’t want to think that this could happen. It’s easy to live in denial, thinking that nothing bad could ever happen in our safe hometown. But, as the police officers reminded us today, it is possible for an active shooter to end up in one of our schools. And, because our bodies won’t go where our minds haven’t gone, we must think about this as a possibility. We must think about what we would do if we were confronted with an active shooter in our building.
The most unbelievable part of the training was hearing these words from police and firefighters,
“You are the first responders.”
When these words were uttered there was a collective sigh in the room, chills ran up my spine, everyone sat up a little straighter, listened a little more closely, tuned in just a little more.
Have you ever thought that; teachers, custodians, secretaries, cafeteria staff and teacher’s assistants are first responders?
First responders take out the bad guy.
First responders make quick decisions that save lives.
We are first responders.
Those words are still sinking in for me. They are on repeat in my mind.
Teachers are first responders…
Every parent, every grandparent, everyone who loves and cares for a child that walks through the doors of our school needs to know that this week every adult realized that our jobs just got even more important than they were before. Please take comfort in knowing that no one, not even for a second, entertained the idea of “every man for himself”. Not a single person was thinking about himself or herself, instead our conversations centered around how we would save children and how we would take down a shooter.
We didn’t learn this in college. There isn’t a place on the teacher evaluation rubric for this. We won’t be able to include what we learned today in any sort of lesson plan.
We’re all in.
I pray that we will never have to, but if need be, we accept the responsibility of being those first responders.
We will do everything in our power to keep your children safe.
Staff here is the link to the September 25th staff update.