Angela Maiers is right, there is no lesson plan for this. There are children who will not open presents under the tree for them this year because of the senseless tragedy of the lone gunman in Connecticut at Sandy Hook Elementary school. This earth is neither heaven nor hell – but sometimes the face of both show up here. Friday, hell showed his face.
Remember the noble fallen, teachers.
You are a teacher. You are noble.
Why does it take a dumb tragedy for people to realize how dedicated most of you are to your students? You make sacrifices every day and I know that many of you out there would do the same thing for your babies in your classroom.
But you aren't called to die for your kids. You're called to live for them and show them how to live.
We grieved as a nation when 9/11 happened, Columbine, Virginia Tech, and we grieve again now – whipped into even more of a frenzy by politicians and a media that are pulling on our heartstrings so that many can do little but cry and hold our babies.
But it is time to loosen our purse strings and make the phone ring to save children alive today who need us. We are teachers, practical people who act. Let's honor our fallen by SERVING and SAVING kids in their honor.
Teachers stand in the gap.
But we also must remember that there are warm bodied children who will be tucked into their beds tonight because the last task ever done by 6 noble teachers and a principal was to stand in the gap and protect them. These educators gave the ultimate sacrifice to protect the children in their care, like the Great Teacher who did this for us.
We can be shocked and certainly, we can talk about this with others. But if talk is all we do, we're wasting our breath. There is nothing we can do to bring back these 20 children and 6 teachers. I want to add some perspective here about what we can and should do in honor of these children and educators.
Act to save children now
The death of children is always tragic. All of those hopes and dreams – gone. It is especially tragic if it is senseless and preventable. The leading cause of death of children according to the United States National Insitute of Health is accidents. In 2009, there were 1,314 children killed in automobile accidents (almost 4 a day). One study showed that 72% of cars have their booster seats installed incorrectly. If we look at the CDC stats on the things most likely to kill young children, it remains automobile accidents. It isn't a crazy gunman we should worry about most, but parents and caregivers who don't buckle their kids in properly.
Let's also point out that 6.9 million children die every year, largely due to malnutrition and another report cited by USA today says that 18,000 children die every day of hunger. Even worse, if there could be such a thing, there are an estimated 9 million children in slavery today. (See Free Slaves this Christmas.) Tens of thousands of children have been killed by gunmen in Darfur since the beginning of that genocide in 2004.
But, Vicki, are you marginalizing what happened in Connecticut?
No! Please follow me here. Let's make these lost lives count to save others.
Teachers stand in the gap
Let's grieve by giving in honor of our fallen heroes. On Monday, you're not going to be asked to die for your students, but to live for your students. Let's channel this grief in the honor of those who are fallen to SAVE lives of children. It is what we should do as teachers.
These teachers used their bodies to protect the children in their care. Let's use ours to protect the children in ours.
What can we do to honor these fallen teachers?
1- Talk to your students.
Yes, of course, you can talk to and love your students. They will have questions, be there for them. But use this opportunity to talk about something that is a greater threat to them than a gunman — wearing their seatbelt and getting adults to wear them too. We will save more children that way than putting bullet proof glass in the front office. (Larry Ferlazzo has compiled a great list of resources for dealing with tragedy.)
2 – Give donations to organizations that protect children in the name of the fallen teachers.
Donate to Destiny Rescue, a slavery rescue organization, or any worthwhile organization that feeds and helps children. Raise money to help children who need you. Spent your grief honoring these fallen teachers and students by helping children! Write a check and put these six names above on the “in honor of” list.
What greater tribute can be given to a teacher who gave her life sacrificially for her students than to sacrificially give to save another child's life? Couldn't we trend the names of these six women on donor lists for worthy organizations around the world?
3 – Schedule a car seat check at your school.
If you want to save the lives of children – work to make sure parents and children are properly secured in their vehicles. Use the empathy of parents in a positive direction for them to realize that senseless accidents are the number one killer of children in the US and how to prevent those. Don't let this grief be wasted – SAVE LIVES.
4 – Rededicate yourself to your students.
When things like this happen, we see how much these kids really mean to us. Their lives are in our care. This is an incredible responsibility and opportunity. Never settle for even one child to be lost.
Let's take steps to end the death of children wherever it is happening.
Things went right back to “normal” after 9/11 and in a few weeks, many will move on from this too. But if we can adopt a hungry child – every month we can remember. If we can donate and raise money for causes that help children live healthy lives and do this every year — we can remember.
And more than remembering – we can honor.
So, in honor of these educators, I'm going to go to my classes on Monday and ask them what they want to do in the 3 days we have left to support an organization that helps save the lives of children and we're going to do it in honor of those who lost their lives at Sandy Hook. I'm going to make a donation in honor of these women to Rescue Atlanta, a nonprofit in Atlanta taking steps to end the child sex trade right here on my door.
Talking, crying, melancholy – throw those tissues away and get busy with your grief – turn your grief into giving and do it in honor of the great ones among us who gave their ultimate gift to their students – their lives.
Remember your noble calling, teacher.
Remember the noble fallen teachers. May we never forget.
My husband said some of you will be mad at me for this post as I read it to him in the car – I hope before you comment, you'll read the whole thing and know that I
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