Reflections on School Shootings: A Tribute to Hero Teachers by Ann Marie Gardinier Halstead
On any given day you can walk into a school in the U.S. and find teachers instructing kids with not only academic needs but social and emotional needs as well. They teach the popular kids and the lonely kids, the reluctant readers and over-achievers, the class clowns and class presidents, those who seem to have everything and those who come to school hungry for breakfast and attention. I have often witnessed the myriad ways that teachers go above and beyond the call of duty to meet the individual needs of these students, despite overcrowded classrooms, limited resources and the pressures of the Common Core Standards Initiative (and, yes, despite modest salaries, too).
Since the start of 2018, teachers at several schools across the U.S. have truly gone above and beyond the call of duty. The active shooter drills they had prepared their students for but hoped they would never need became their nightmare reality. These teachers did what they do best; they instructed our kids. During what was undoubtedly the most terrifying moment of their lives, they led their students to safety, hid kids in closets and even put themselves directly in harm’s way to protect them.
On February 14, in Parkland, Fla., teachers and coaches did just that, and lost their lives doing so. According to Independent, geography teacher and coach Scott Beigel, 35, was shot and killed while directing students to his classroom to hide from the gunman. Student Kelsey Friend told CNN, “Mr. Beigel was my hero and he still will forever be my hero ... I am alive today because of him.”
Mr. Biegel is indeed a hero. There’s no doubt in my mind that his fellow teachers are heroes, too, for reasons that extend far beyond teaching our kids reading or art or math. They’re heroes for valuing our children as individual humans and learners. They’re heroes for believing in kids who don’t yet believe in themselves. And they’re heroes for trying to keep their students calm and protecting them in the face of horrific circumstances.
These everyday heroes deserve our support, our respect and our gratitude now more than ever.