Good evening friends (or morning or whatever time it is when you are visiting me)! This post will be random (because of course that is what you have come to expect from me). But this time my random will have a much deeper meaning than just my everyday random.
I want you all to think back a year ago (a year ago December 14th to be exact). That date might not jump out at you, or maybe it does, but that is the date of the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary. Feel free to take a break from reading to really stop and think about that day. I know I have to quite often whenever it comes to mind. If you are a teacher and/or a parent - the thought of that day might even bring you to tears with just a mention of it. I have a hard time reading anything about it without the tears streaming down my face.
For me, December 14, 2012 started out like any other normal day in 1st grade. We were all in the holiday spirit and enjoying some fun activities, crafts, Christmas read alouds - it's such a wonderful time of year. I remember dropping my kids off at lunch and walking into the teacher's room where the news had been announced and the TV was on. The one scene that plays over and over in my head is of the class of students being led out of the building holding hands and walking in a line. I looked at their faces and the faces of the teachers. I just could not imagine how someone could go into an elementary school (or any school of course) and start mindlessly attacking these children --- first graders. I listened to the times and realized that it was a mere 10 minutes from beginning to end. Such a short time and yet so much devastation.
The rest of the day is a bit of a blur. I remember envisioning what I would do if that happened in our school, on that day. I remember hoping that I would be brave enough to shield my students like many of those teachers did. I know I would. They are my children and I am there to teach them but to also protect them. I remember thinking about my daughter in preschool. Would her teacher do the same for her? Was it wrong of me to expect her to give her life for my daughter? I don't know, but I can't imagine it any other way. I remember saying goodbye to my little first graders at the end of the day and giving them extra big hugs with a forced smile on my face because they had no idea what had happened earlier that day and they were just their happy little selves.
Of course, as teachers, we try each and everyday to make our classroom a place where our students feel safe, happy, and loved. The next day of school (after the weekend), when my students entered the classroom, I felt different. I felt that my job, as important as it had always been, was now much more important. Although I always knew that teaching was so much more than just the lessons I plan for my students, now I felt it more deeply than ever. It changed me. But it also left me longing for a way to help. There really wasn't anything I could do but to continue to make my classroom that safe haven for my students. Every new day I would pay attention to each smile. I would make sure they felt like part of a family so they would never doubt that they were loved. I would find new ways to inspire them and bring out their talents and creativity. I would do more than teach! I will try to make my little inch of the world the best I can and maybe it will spread out from there.
Now I have to ask something of those who read this . . .
The people of Newtown, CT, have asked people to commit random acts of kindness on December 14th to honor the teachers and students of Sandy Hook Elementary. What better way to remember the angels that are now watching over us all. Help me (and hundreds of others) spread Random Acts of Kindness on this 1 year anniversary. Greg Smedley of Smedley's Smorgasbord of Kindergarten helped organize teachers and bloggers to spread the word. Krista Walden created this adorable graphic to help promote this movement.
As educators, we remember and honor our fallen colleagues and their students from Sandy Hook School. We honor them each day in our classrooms in which we continue their dream of teaching our children. We honor their memory with our service. Join with teachers everywhere in committing random acts of kindness to show our love for Sandy Hook.
As for me, I found a small way to help a local family who just recently faced a tragedy. This family of 5 was hit head on by a man who was under the influence of illicit drugs. The mother was killed. One of the daughters is paralyzed from the waist down. The others have been in and out of the hospital since the accident with surgeries and complications. This family is in need of financial support for their medical and funeral bills. If this is something you would like to help with, click here to read more about this family and donate if possible. I felt very strongly after reading their story that this was one way I could help a family who is going through so much and has so much more to face. I still plan on finding some other ways I can spread kindness because I know I can do even more.
I would really love to hear about any ways in which you plan to commit Random Acts of Kindness in honor of Sandy Hook. Remember, it does not need to cost any money. Leave me a message. It might inspire someone else to join in.