I am sure that if you have listened to, watched, or read the news at least once during the past month or so, you've seen something about an instance of school violence. Pennsylvania, Colorado, Florida...
This week in Orange County, the county in which I call home, the school system that signs my paychecks, the area that I devote so much time to, experienced three acts of violence. Two attempts to cause harm were diverted; one resulted in the death of a 15-year-old boy. Last Monday, a 17-year-old student walked into his high school carrying a semi-automatic gun and ten bullets in his backpack. Luckily someone told the school administration and the student was apprehended and arrested before someone could get hurt. The news reported that he had the intention to kill.
On Friday, an 11-year-old student brought five knives to his middle school, one of which was eight inches long. Again, someone alerted the school administration and the child was apprehended. Apparently this child had the intention to harm as part of a gang retaliation plan.
But on this past Thursday, a violent attempt was not stopped. During dismissal at Phil's school, a 17-year-old student stabbed a 15-year-old student three times in the stomach and once in the back of the neck. He then dodged under a school bus, changed his clothes, and ran. After getting the entire into lockdown and conducting a search, the police found the boy and the knife. The child was then arrested and will be tried as an adult for premeditated murder. According to the news the motive was a disagreement over a girl.
Earlier this week, I had a discussion with my classes about fear. We spent some time identifying our fears; then we tried to personify and create our fears out of construction paper. As you can expect, my students asked me what some of my fears are. I shared my fear of big hairy spiders, of the dark after watching horror films, of being alone, of failing, and my list went on. This is the third time I've done this activity with students and this is the first time I added this fear to my list: getting hurt or killed at work. I shared this with my students; they pondered my response for a few seconds, and then someone said, "But Miss, we wouldn't kill you. We love you." I had to tell them that I am not afraid of my students, but I am afraid of irrate parents and irrational students. They understood what I meant immediately.
Tears have come to my eyes at random moments this weekend. Sometimes it's because I am thankful that Phil was not hurt on Thursday; sometimes it's because I think of the parents of these children. Most of the time the tears come because my heart breaks for the children in our schools. I don't understand how a person can get so angry that they feel the only way out is to take another person's life. These are children. Children that people in education have devoted thier lives to. Where are they getting these ideas? Who is taking care of them?
It's a difficult time to be a teacher. It's a difficult time to be a student.