Again

There was another school shooting yesterday.

I don’t have the statistics as they stand as of today, and you can certainly find them easily enough if you look. One is one too many as far as I’m concerned, and we surpassed that number years ago.

I was brought to my knees watching the Columbine news coverage back in 1999. Less than a month earlier, I had left my high school teaching career to move cross-country for my then-husband’s job, and I could not fathom how something like that could happen.

Twenty years later, I’m back in the schools as a substitute teacher. Each day, I’m in a different classroom at a different school. The first thing I do is size up how to keep students safe. Where is the nearest exit? Where is the safest place within the room for them to hide? And so on. I keep my cell phone in my pocket just in case I need it. It’s become habit.

We go to work and say good morning and smile, and nobody talks about what happened yesterday (at least not to a sub). The school safety doorbells ring, and the secretaries screen the ringers, granting access to whomever it is most of the time. We want to believe the places we work – the places we send our kids to learn – are safe and that these measures are helpful. I’m sure they are to some degree.

This is the normal our kids are growing up in. We need to be telling them – and showing them through our outrage and actions – that there is nothing normal about it.

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