By Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach
I have been reflecting on why I am (and so many educators I know are) so hard hit emotionally by what has happened in CT. I mentioned to a family member it feels like 9/11 to me. I am grief stricken. I’m turning on the TV often to feel connected to those suffering. Visibly depressed. Tearful. Angry.
I mean yes, it was 20 children. Who wouldn’t feel it? But children have died before and while I was saddened and shed a tear or two, the only other event covered by the news I have been this shaken up by was 9/11. Then I saw a tweet. And I knew why.
It is a secret truth between all of us who have been in the classroom that the kids come first (seriously come first –not just words). When in our schools/classrooms (especially in an elementary school) we are all on the front lines. And if anything goes down, we will fight for these kids to the point of death. We all know this — about ourselves and others — but this event has made educators everywhere look at that “truth” and question it. It has made us all pray — if our time comes (God forbid) — make us as brave as Sandy Hook’s educators.
Media is so quick to present educators as greedy, loud, and whiny when in reality most are selfless, steadfast, and strong. Why can’t media highlight the good that teachers do everyday? The selfless acts they carry out on behalf of the kids they serve? The sacrifices they make (often to the neglect of their own families) for the children in their care? Putting kids first is what teaching is all about. And leadership, too. This is what it means to be the caring administrator of a school full of precious children.
I grieve for those kids. I grieve for those educators. I grieve for their families. But I also grieve for our profession. And wish somewhere in the political finger pointing that will follow as we try to make sense of everything that has happened that someone will notice the educators and realize how valuable what they give each and every day is to the lives of children everywhere. You want to change a system in a way that will have lasting impact on society? Focus on meaningful school reform. Honor and cherish the work our future depends upon.