Finding comfort in a tragedy
As our nation continues to grieve the horrific shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., I have mourned as well. After reading the news and the accounts of what happened on Dec. 14, knots immediately formed in my stomach. As I reflect on the young innocent lives that were taken, on the heroic, brave staff who were killed and the students who were witnesses at school that morning, I can’t help but just want to cry. It was a horrendous day.
However, I need to mentally shift focus on the shootings because my mind literally cannot comprehend such a tragedy. The only thing I can think to do, is to never forget what happened, learn safety guidelines from the disaster and to appreciate my students more.
Teaching a Special Day Class is literally exhausting, as I’m sure is teaching any grade, from preschool through seniors in high school. Day-in and day-out in my Special Day Class, we go over rules and how to be nice to one another. I can become frustrated when they talk too much, giggle too loud in class or forget to bring their homework folders back to school. But, when it comes down to it, my students are safe, and a tragedy such as the one that occurred at Sandy Hook is fortunately not something my students experienced on Dec. 14.
In fact, on Dec. 14 at Prestwood Elementary School, my class and I had a nice day together – we even watched a silly Christmas movie at the end of the day. It was your basic, challenging but rewarding school day with kids, with all of us feeling very excited for winter break.
Going back in time a bit, for a class assignment a couple weeks ago, my students worked on researching their heroes or idols, then wrote them letters and I took their pictures to send to the lucky recipients. One student wrote a letter to a player on the San Francisco Giants, while another wrote to an actress she loves. I picked up the pictures tonight and as I looked at them, I noticed that all the students had one thing in common – huge proud, happy smiles, and that’s exactly how kids should be – happy. Not tormented, hurt, killed or scarred for life because of one person’s awful decisions, but rather full of joy, plain and simple, because feeling joy is a fundamental part of what being a kid is all about.
I have realized through the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy that I am so thankful and glad that my students are indeed just that, happy. There should be no blood, no tears and no guns in school. There should be kids writing to their idols, sometimes forgetting their homework folders and occasionally giggling in class.
Like all teachers, my heart goes out to all of those impacted by the tragedy. Life is truly a precious gift, and as a teacher I feel extremely content with my challenging classroom. Even though I can get very tired of the giggling, I am grateful that my students are happy, and even more so, that they are safe.