An Open Letter to my Students and their Parents...

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

I woke up this morning with a very sad and heavy heart with yet another school in my prayers.  This school shooting  hit a little close to home because I teach seventh grade.  I watched the news over my coffee, mourning for the loss of innocence at the horror that must have unfolded yesterday and I couldn't help but think about what was going through the minds of those who witnessed it.  But I also couldn't help but think about my own seventh grade children... because they. are. children.  And I cried.  Children shooting children.
And as I walked into my classroom this morning, I had your sons and daughters on my mind and there are a few things I want you, America, to know.  As teachers, we don't know how to fix this.  We would if we could, but we sit and watch in horror and feel like our hands are tied.

And to the students of my classroom, there are a few things I want you to know.  I want you to know that you are loved.  I love my job, but I love you more.  And I want you to know that you matter.  I want you to know that I would protect you.  I want you to know that I pray for you.  I want you to know that I will never turn my back on you.

To my parents... every 60 minutes, I get a new set of faces.  Every 60 minutes I begin a new battle.  A fight for attention, for understanding.  Every 60 minutes, I get a new chance to fix my lesson so that they really "get it".  But what I really want them to learn is that I see past the failing grades, the missing assignments, the test scores.  I want them to know that they are more than just a number on a report card to me.

"Mr. Masterson ... was a hero ... who stood there and allowed a gun to be pointed right at him."  (CNN.com)

I would imagine that nearly every teacher across America would stand up and do the same thing.  Because that's what teacher's do.  We stress, we plan, we worry if we are teaching it the right way, the best way.  We fight for the attention of your children in a world that we (teachers) struggle to understand.  And we go home tired.  We bring our work home, and I don't mean papers to grade.  We bring home the stories, the goodness, the moments of laughter, and we hang on to the "aha" moments and tuck them into our hearts using them as fuel to keep going.  Because that's what teachers do.  We keep going, we KEEP teaching.  And yes, we haul bags of papers and assignments home to grade that never make it inside, because by the time we get home we are weighed down and sore from trying to hold the baggage of our students and there is so much baggage.  Weary from the heavy burden of the great task set before us... the task of developing a human, and not just teaching them math or how to analyze a story, but teaching them about life, and how to handle fear when you are afraid you might be shot.  And we. are. tired.

I realize that our great state requires me to place more importance on making an inference or passing a test than on being compassionate.  So I hope you don't mind, but today - before reading our expository article on "The Spices of the World", we had a conversation about life.  We talked about respect, and about how to treat each other with kindness and love.

And over and over and over again, I was asked what I would do if something like New Mexico or Connecticut happened here.  And I had to be truthful... I looked them in the eyes and told them I don't know.  Because that's the truth.  I don't know what I would do if a lunatic showed up with a gun at my school.  But I do know that I would pray.  And I do know that I would try to be calm.  I would like to think that I would be brave.  And I would like them to know that I would do whatever it takes to keep them safe.

And even though I can't whisper Christ's name inside the four walls of my classroom, I want my parents and students to know that He is here.  And while I realize that I may not be as exciting as a video game, I want my students to know that Jesus loves them.  And although I can't tell them that, I want you to know that I will always love them because He first loved me.  From the moment they walked into the door in August, they captured my heart.  And I pray that they find peace within the walls of my classroom and of our school.

Please join me in prayer for the Berrendo Middle School in Roswell and for a peace to settle upon the schools of our nation.   


1 comments:

Lori Stead said...

Oh, Jenny! I love this. It's so very true. When I taught and we had drills, I told the kids I would die for them. I explained that I would do everything in my power, should someone evil make it into our room, to defend them. And I explained that I would expect them to take over and not stop fighting, should I die in the process. This is the world we live in, and it's tough. And I don't think students will ever realize how much we LOVE them! This is so beautifully written. I shared it and I hope others do, too. Love to you, sweet friend!

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