Returning to another Monday morning at work after a horrifically violent attack. I will pray for my students and for my own strength as we try to learn in the midst of grieving for the loss of so many. Maybe diagraming sentences will occupy their minds or maybe we can get lost in a story. Teachers like me all across the country will pretend to our students that it isn't on our minds. We will close our classroom doors and think we will be safe; we want to believe we will be safe but we can't really think it. Not after Columbine. Not after Virginia Tech. Not after Perry Hall. Not after Newtown. Not after too many. Some will point to the causes of these mass killings and unfortunately there are many — guns, mental health, desensitization, and violent images perpetuated in our culture — but there isn't one solution.
To protect our children from all of these causes of violence, we already practice lock-down drills in the event that we have an actively dangerous situation in our schools and I pray for all of us that we only have drills in the future.
Others will point to securing our school buildings, classroom doors and locks in a similar way that prisons are. And that may deter some who want to commit violence but it will only slow others. Because adding video surveillance and police officers in every school will not stop the violence, it hasn't so far. And then we will need to be prepared to fortify our malls, churches and other public places in the same manner. Then, where will it stop? Will more gun shops open in strip malls offering more assault weaponry and body armor? If our public places have to be protected from violent attacks, then surely our individual bodies will have to be similarly protected. Instead of grabbing my morning coffee and attaché with my car keys I will grab another two rounds and sling my assault rifle over my shoulder before heading off to work.
For obvious reasons, maybe because the pain is too much, we want to honor this event and move toward the future quickly. Already social networks are posting about other mundane daily events. But for the community of Newtown, their lives will be anything but mundane. They would trade us a thousand of our minor life "traumas" for their one unimaginable trauma. Let us not let their children's lives be in vain. Let us stand beside them and say enough. It is time to truly act on the issue of violence in our country. We owe it to our children and to all of the children lost to school violence.
The writer once taught English at Aberdeen High School, where she also worked with the school newspaper and yearbook. In 2002, while teaching at Aberdeen, she was among a group of local teachers selected by former students to be included in the seventh edition of Who's Who Among America's Teachers.