I started my blog in December of 2011. My plan was to dedicate a week in December to celebrating my one year anniversary of starting a blog. Instead, as a nation, we mourned the loss of many innocent children and their teachers in a senseless shooting that forever changed how we view our roles as early childhood teachers. I was speechless, sitting in dismay at the unthinkable. I couldn't even think of words that week to write in my blog, much less celebrate. Actually, I went several weeks without posting because I couldn't find the right words that would sum up how I felt about all of the lives that were lost.
You see, as early childhood teachers, we are always the "protectors" of our young students. We are constantly looking out for their well-being. We are proactive in searching for areas that might be of concern to their safety. We tend to scraped knees, bruised elbows, and broken hearts. We are with them when they are sick, tired, and hungry. We buy school supplies for our students. We buy books for our students. We provide clothing, coats, and backpacks for our students who need them. We work diligently to ensure they have a safe, nurturing environment to thrive in both academically and socially. And we routinely practice all of the required drills and problem-solve what we would do if the unthinkable were to happen. But truly we were innocent to what other teachers in middle schools, high schools, and universities across the United States have faced. We were innocent. On December 14, 2012, that innocence was taken away. And I just wanted to say one month later, I still remember. For every students' name that was read on the television and for every picture that was shown, I could name a student in my classroom who had similar qualities both physically and characteristically. Little girls whose favorite colors were pink and purple. Little boys who loved sports and were enthusiastic about reading and learning. Students who were natural born leaders. Young children who would greet me at the door every morning and light up the room and my heart with their smiles.
I was asked shortly afterwards to represent teachers in what we do to prepare for such an event on our local television station in Tulsa, OK. The following is the interview that took place that day. I really didn't know what I would say or how I would be able to talk about it. It hit so close to home. I was an early childhood teacher. Our students are part of our extended family. So I brought a piece of my classroom with me. It is a quilt that was made for me last year by a former parent. She made me a quilt with an individual square for each child telling what they loved about their teacher. And for the month of December, I wrapped this blanket around me many times when I sat on the couch. It now stays on my couch. I always planned on hanging it in my teaching office, but never got around to it. I wanted it to stay beautiful and perfect. Those plans changed that week. So I clung to my quilt and ask the same questions that everyone else was asking. Why did this have to happen? Why were these beautiful children and their teachers lives taken so early? So one month later, I just wanted to write, "I still remember those beautiful faces and names. I always will. I will never forget."