Like many Americans, especially parents, especially teachers, Dec. 14, 2012 is burned into my brain. I may have been too young (just) to remember where I was on Nov. 22, 1963, but I know exactly where I was 49 years and 22 days later - in the gym working scoreboard for our basketball tournament - and remember it as clearly as if it were yesterday. On that day, we learned with growing shock what had transpired at Sandy Hook Elementary School, a horrific mass shooting that began with the shooter’s mother and continued to result in the deaths of 20 children and six faculty/staff members before the shooter turned his gun on himself.
Karen Pleasant, Chair of the History Department and IB co-coordinator, recently published this piece in the Daily Hampshire Gazette.
As I begin my combined 36th year of school as learner and educator, two things recently occurred to me: I have now spent as many years as a teacher as I have as a student and how much the day-to-day realities of what it means to go to school have changed in that time. (read entire article on the Gazette's website)
“We try. We will always try. And also? We all matter- all of our voices rising for school safety, better resources for schools and teacher and students, etc. will help .....” - Nelba Márquez-Greene, tweet dated July 2, 2018.
Nelba Márquez-Greene is the founder of the Ana Grace Project, one of a variety of foundations and charities set up by Sandy Hook parents following the tragedy. Her ongoing advocacy for safer and more inclusive schools, her willingness to be vulnerable, her resilience, and her relentless work to bring about positive change in the world have led me to view her as a role model in my own ongoing work along the same lines. So when the idea arose that we might do a Twitter chat together on gun violence, I knew working with her was an amazing opportunity, one which I hoped many dozens of people would seize. We settled on the hashtag #SavingLivesChat, and if you click on this link, you should be able to scroll back and view the chat if you’d like.
Founded in response to the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School, Sandy Hook Promise has worked with experts to develop four different in-school programs designed to help prevent gun violence. As summarized by Judith Coffey in a recent email to Sandy Hook Promise Leaders, they are:
Friday, May 18, 2018. All times Eastern time.
by Ember Larregui '18
Good Morning, students, teachers, adults, and residents. My name is Ember Larregui, one of the eight Student Heads of Stoneleigh-Burnham School, and I am here today to speak to you all on the issue of gun control.
During advisory lunch on Monday, one of my eighth grade advisees asked why people might not want to arm teachers. The conversation quickly shifted to our school’s policies around lockdowns and other policies meant to help keep kids safe, so we ran out of time before her question was really answered. I told her I hadn’t forgotten the original question, and said maybe we could talk on Wednesday.
“I am not a pretty girl. That is not what I… do.” - ani difranco
It’s 10 days after Parkland and, while some of the initial rawness has subsided, I know many teachers who are still having difficulty sleeping, having nightmares when they do get to sleep, crying on basically a daily basis. While one of my colleagues and I were discussing actions the kids here are resolving to take, she told me, choking back tears, “I just feel so helpless.” My office mate and I had a long conversation yesterday in which she pointed out she was so young when Columbine happened that she can’t remember a time when we didn’t have to worry about school shootings. She’s profoundly angry about that, and goodness knows I would be.
“The idea that only special people can create change is useful if you want to prevent mass movements and keep change from happening.” (Lyn Mikel Brown)
“Maybe the kids will save us.” It’s a phrase I periodically and not infrequently hear among teachers, along with “They give me hope.” I’ve said it myself - just two days ago, in fact - and no doubt will continue to, because I do firmly believe it. And on that horrible Wednesday, when the last Rock Band group of the night smiled and thanked me and walked out the door laughing together and there was nothing left to enable me to wall off my emotions about the news from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, one of my first responses was to turn immediately back to the kids. I asked Windsor’s permission to post her beautiful and powerful All School email to our blog, and she quickly and graciously agreed. It has become our most widely read blog post ever, and for good reason.
“Hey, Bill, can we trade instruments and make a lot of noise?” It’s not the kind of request I would normally go for, much as I value student voice, but I knew it was Thursday evening and the lead singer for the middle school rock band was still on their way, having gotten out of theatre rehearsal late and needing to grab a quick dinner. I said, “Let’s do it!” The kids shouted happily and jumped up and ran, practically running each other over, eventually settling into place. I counted off - 1, 2, 1 2 3 4 - and the grand and joyous cacophony began.