Lockdown—that was the subject line of the e-mail I got at work on one of the last days of school this past May. My heart dropped into my stomach. I quickly scrolled down to read the body of the message, though not entirely sure I wanted to.
Apparently there had been a bank robbery, and the police had cornered the suspects in the neighborhood behind the school. At the time of the lockdown, though, the suspects had not been apprehended. By the time I got the e-mail, the situation was well in hand and the communication was sent to let parents know what happened. It didn’t make me feel any better, though.
That night at dinner, I listened to my two youngest kids, Riley and Kacey, recount what they went through.
Riley talked about how they turned off the lights, pushed the desks in front of the door, and huddled on the inside wall. She said they were told to grab any heavy item, such as books or staplers, that they could to throw at anyone who entered the room.
Kacey told a similar story but added: “I had tears in my eyes. I just kept looking for my teacher.”
Suddenly, I had tears in my eyes. She’s 7. No 7-year-old should be hiding behind her desk. Actually, no student should have to.
A Special Calling
But something else hit me when Riley and Kacey were recounting their experiences that day. In those terrifying moments, Kacey didn’t say she wanted me or my husband, Mark. No, she said she was searching for her teacher. Riley also pointed out how calmly and confidently her teacher had acted. That, to me, speaks volumes about the power and impact teachers have on our kids.
When I was younger and discerning my future career path, I can unequivocally say that teaching was never even an option. I’m not sure why. I like kids; I really do. Otherwise I wouldn’t have four of my own. And I love to learn things. But teaching held no appeal for me.
Perhaps that’s why I have so much respect for those who do enter the teaching profession. In fact, I actually consider teaching to be more than a career. I consider it to be a ministry.
Not only are these men and women teaching information, they are also helping to form their students in many other ways. They devote their time, energy, and hearts into what they do, often seeing the line between their work hours and personal time blur.
It is the stuff of superheroes. In fact, the big-screen superhero Wolverine is a teacher.
In Good Hands
I remember something one of the students at Santa Fe High School said after the shooting at her school last May—the week before the lockdown at our own school.
“It’s been happening everywhere,” 17-year-old Paige Curry told reporters. “I’ve always kind of felt like eventually it was going to happen here, too. I wasn’t surprised. I was just scared.”
Each day when I send my kids off to school, that sentiment echoes in my mind and haunts me. When situations happen like the lockdown at their school last year, I wish I could wrap them up and keep them safe from every danger in the world. But I can’t. None of us can. The best I can do is pray and drop them off at school knowing that they are in the hands of superheroes.