In honor of wearing green on Monday for Sandy Hook Elementary, here's a green and white outfit I was wearing on Friday.
Boots: Diba from DSW
Cords: Forever 21
Sweater: Chaps from the men's department at Kohl's (it's a size small)
As I sat in the doctor's office watching the news unfold about the most recent school shooting on Friday morning, my heart felt leaden and my mind began to wander.
I thought about the student who visited me on Thursday to tell me how much I've impacted him. He's now a senior, but he still remembers when I told him in tenth grade that his graduation will be the first I plan to attend. He told me that he nominated and voted for me for teacher of the year. I don't need any more votes to feel like teacher of the year. Knowing that I affected him so positively makes my career worthwhile.
My mind then wandered to a different student, one I'm
worried about graduating this year, especially since he's been absent for at least a week. My co-teacher texted me on Friday to tell me that, on his first day back, he came to see me while I was out. Maybe he wanted counsel, which I often provide for him.
This time, acid reflux is not to blame for my heartburn. My heart aches realizing that so many teachers are robbed of the chance to know those twenty special children, so many parents no longer have that little body to warm their soul, and too many children lost their current and future best friends.
I don't want to talk about guns. I don't want to talk about mental illness. Not now. I want to talk about the love I have for these kids. As teachers, even though we're supposed to ensure our students' safety, educate them, and foster their sense of self worth, we're cautioned not to hug them. We're so scared of lawsuits that we avoid touching them at all even when they run up to us and wrap their arms around us.
During the Newtown school shooting, teacher Kaitlin Roig hugged her scared students and told them it was going to be okay because she didn't want the last sound they heard to be gunshots. Victoria Soto sacrificed her own life for the sake of her students'. Maryrose Kristopik barricaded her classroom door with her own body. These women are heroes, and now our country recognizes them as such. If only our country had realized their virtues earlier.
Now, our country needs to stop blaming teachers and start trusting us to do our job, especially since so many of us are willing to do what we are not paid for because we love what we do. We love those kids as if they're our own. I'm not saying we're martyrs. I'm not saying we're perfect. I'm saying that we're worth being respected and trusted, not just with kids' lives but with their educations.
And even if you don't want to trust or respect us, we'll continue to do our jobs anyway because that's who we are. For awhile, in light of the Sandy Hook tragedy, we probably won't shrink away or worry when your kids hug us because we know how much they need our support.
We'll continue to perform duties that go beyond what we're paid to do.
Whether or not you realize it, we do it all because we love what we do.
Because we love your kids.