Saturday, December 15, 2012

The Shooting in Connecticut

I feel compelled to write, even though I don't know what to write. What can I write that hasn't already been thought and written by thousands of other people? Still, here I am - sitting at my computer, struggling with all these thoughts.

I'm not a parent, but I've spent my entire professional career loving and protecting young children. I started as a young, part-time, after-school teacher in a child care center -- with a group of 5-year-old children. I was a sophomore in college and I loved those kids. Sure, I was a kid myself, but I knew I was there to give them love and do my best to ensure their safety. Back in 1987, we didn't know anything about "active shooters on campus" or "lock-down" situations. We counted faces, made sure we had all of the kids with us at all times, and tried to keep everyone happy.

I've been the director of an NAEYC-Accredited preschool for the past four years and let me tell you -- Ensuring the safety of the children (and staff) takes on an entirely different meaning. I feel an enormous sense of responsibility every day - whether I'm physically at the preschool or not. Immediately after I arrived, I started making changes to beef-up our security. To some, it was a shock. "It's always been done this way." "We've never had a problem, here." Unfortunately, no one has the liberty to say those things anymore. We HAVE to do more to protect ourselves. We can't just take our safety for granted any more.

I created an extensive Disaster Preparedness Plan, and worked closely with first responders to make sure it was "good." Now, we're working with other professionals to make it even better. A couple of weeks ago, one of our fathers (Police Captain of the local university) presented a powerful workshop -- Dealing with an Active Shooter on Campus. It really changed our perspective on things teachers need to do. In a sense, WE are the "first responders". WE are the one's there to protect the children and WE will do what we can to do just that.

This most recent attack has really rattled me. That school had taken precautions -- they were doing things to keep the children and staff safe. Still, this person came in and murdered those innocent people. He killed the School Psychologist - my husband is a School Pscychologist. The children were just babies!!! There is NOTHING that a 5-year-old could ever do that would warrant an attack like this. I keep seeing the 5-year-olds that I have held in my arms. I can call "my kids" by name. Those sweet little faces that I've kissed and funny little stories that I've listened to. My heart aches for those families that will never get to do that again....with THESE little ones. I keep hoping it was like an episode of "Touched by an Angel", so that each person had a loving angel to calm and guide them.

I'm not ready to talk about "him" -- I'm too angry. I know I'm "supposed" to forgive him. I know I should think about him as a 5-year-old, or as a young adult who is lost and hurting. I just can't get there right now. Right now, I'm thinking about these precious little one's and their teachers.

New angels in heaven - just in time for Christmas.

Please join me in praying for the children. We need GOD to take over!! Clearly, we can't handle this on our own.

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