December 14, 2012: Words of a Classroom Teacher


December 14, 2012 by CassieCravings

Photo by CNN

I ushered my students in from recess. The news of the tragedy in Connecticut had just been released. As I closed the classroom door, I double checked that it was locked. I opened and closed it one more time before I took the time to simply watch them as they chattered, giggled, gossiped, squirmed and settled. A boy let an airplane soar out his hands. I normally would give a bit of a fuss and spill on better choices. Today I soaked in the sheer joy on his face as it landed on the other side of the room. He caught my gaze and sheepishly stuffed it into his pocket.

There they were: 23 innocent, little faces all in neat rows. Their parents kissed them goodbye this morning and trusted me to further their learning and to keep them safe. I gulped down the responsibility of it.

A bouncing blonde headed girl gave me a super squeezing hug. She did this every afternoon as they came in. But today I held her extra tight. “You know that I love, Mrs. Ortiz,” she grinned. “And you know that I love you,” I finally croaked out, “Of all of the little girls in the school, I’m so glad that I get to have you.” I’ve told her this a hundred times. I’ve told each of my children this countless times, but today I savored the words. Today I looked directly into those blue eyes, so unaware of evil, and carefully enunciated every word so that none would be lost.

Our classroom carried on as if the world had not stopped.

I reviewed procedure for heading a spelling test. On my computer, CNN flashed pictures and words of sheer horror. My voice cracked as I called out the words. I paused to regain composure. A dear friend texted me to turn off the computer. She knows me too well.

The laptop was closed, and I looked out at my 23 children. Restless feet tapped as they scribbled the words onto crisp notebook paper. Eraser dust flew as it was swept away by careful hands. A hand raised in the air. It  impatiently waved for recognition, “Uhhh…Mrs. Ortiz. You gonna’ say the next word?”

As we continued the test, I found myself getting lost in the tragedy of today. It took my breath away to watch my precious children simply be children. They took their spelling test as they have done for the last 14 spelling test of this school year. They buzzed about after the papers were collected in anticipation of going to the library. They laughed, fussed and played just as children should.

It doesn’t make sense that there are mothers and fathers who will not hold their babies tonight. It doesn’t make sense that Monday morning children will not want to go to school because they are afraid of what will happen. I craved answers, but I knew that no answer could possibly satisfy the “Why?”. I wanted to hold my own son so badly that my body ached for him.

Quietly I breathed a prayer for my students and for my son. I thanked God for each of them. I thanked God for the opportunity to hold them. I tried to pray for the families that are affected by this tragedy; I found no words. So, I simply sat.

Today our nation is mourning. Precious babies were ripped from their family’s lives. Heroic adults will not be going home to our families. This was a senseless, disgusting act of evil. Prayers are with all of those affected by this tragedy.


36 thoughts on “December 14, 2012: Words of a Classroom Teacher

  1. Because we have no answers we pray, and steel ourselves to go on. How would your school have survived such an attack?my school was quite tough on lockdowns, but the gates were all to welcoming to passer bys wishing to ingnore posted “rules.”

    • mamacravings says:

      I went over and over our lock down procedures this afternoon. We, as teachers, lock our doors and gather the students in a certain spot in the room. The entire school can be locked down in less than a minute. Every day, we only have one entrance that is unlocked into the school. Visitors wear a large, white sticker with their full name and picture printed on it (from their driver’s license). Our neighboring city has a system where every visitor has to scan their license for the doors of the school to even unlock. If they have been flagged, the doors will not open.

    • Staci Smith says:

      We hug our kids extra tight because we don’t know what is gonna tomorrow…and we tell everyone we love them because of the same….very good reading Casi 🙂

  2. boomiebol says:

    No words indeed…as I put the girls in bed tonight I hugged them so tight…I whispered layers in their ears…one of them asked mommy why are you praying again…unsure of myself…I said “it’s all I can do”

  3. Amazingly written and clearly a sincere post. Well done!

  4. kristine says:

    happened upon your entry. thank you for the words you have written. sadness and silence. appreciation. a better awareness of the precious gift of life. and how powerful a hurt mind can be. to carry out such violence. ungodliness. that each person may feel loved. and not alone. and be safe. with healthy mind. on a good path amen.

    • mamacravings says:

      Thank you so much. It is such an unspeakable tragedy. I found myself sitting at the keyboard and just starting for a good half-hour. It was one of those I want to say something but had no words situations.

      Thank you for taking the time to read and to comment.

  5. This is just so horrible. Words can’t begin to express it. I can’t imagine how that must’ve felt for all teachers today but you described your feelings well. I sure know how it felt as a Mom though.
    What a terrible, unspeakable thing this deranged person has done..
    Still can’t understand it. We will mourn those poor children as we would are own..because sadly..this could happen anywhere these days. 😦

    • mamacravings says:

      As a teacher, I stay hyper-aware of my surroundings and my children’s safety. Yesterday, however, I just wanted to lock my door, close my window blinds and keep my kids in.
      I don’t know if we will ever understand it. Such an act of unspeakable tragedy just doesn’t make any sense.

      • It really doesn’t. Still cannot believe it. Can’t stop tearing up over it. & Yet we have to protect our little ones from all of the media coverage..but at the same time we have to educate them about horrific things like this possibly happening & what to do. Being a Mom is never easy, but being a Mommy and a teacher? That’s like being a mom to the 2nd power.
        I know it’s not going to be great in the coming weeks with all of the safety measures the school boards will probably be teaching but, I know you’ll be able to handle it. Those kids are lucky to have you. 🙂

      • mamacravings says:

        My husband and I have both just cried and cried over it. I look into my baby’s eyes and can’t bear to let him go. I haven’t put him in his own bed for the last 2 nights. I just want to be next to him.

        I’m the lucky one. My kids can be a tough group. They have big personalities. They will be excellent leaders. But I love every single one of my 66 students with my entire heart. I am so lucky to get to teach them ❤

  6. Jackie says:

    Thank you for sharing such an honest post. I’m still in shock and cannot stop thinking about it. I hugged my children so many times yesterday and lay in bed, sleepless, in shock and grief for all those families.

  7. […] December 14, 2012: Words of a Classroom Teacher ( […]

  8. Sarah says:

    Thank you so much for writing this! I can’t even find the right words to say about this horrific situation. My heart just aches for those sweet, sweet innocent babies and those amazingly brave adults who lost their lives in this pointless tragedy. 😦

  9. The fact that you could carry one during such a terrible moment is impressive.

  10. nanaoak says:

    I applaud all Educators for the selfless gift of time they give to their students, the parents of those students and to the community. As a retired Educator, mother and grand mother I cannot imagine just what the families of these precious victims must be experiencing what I can imagine is the heroism of the ones who gave their lives. Every Educator I have been affiliated seems to have been given a heart three times the average person with the ability to love and embrace all children in every walk of life. My heart goes out to all who are experiencing loss due to this tragic event. Thank you for sharing…

    • mamacravings says:

      I have so many of my friends tell me that they could never be a teacher or love a whole mess of kids as much as their own. I find it strange. But I suppose they find me strange. Teaching is an incredibly challenging profession, but I adore it. I cannot imagine the pain that these children and parents and teachers are experiencing. It is beyond heartbreaking.

  11. Jellywoman says:

    Hi – just seen your posting. I remember the minute I heard about the Dunblane massacre over here in the UK. I was teaching a class of 5 year olds at the same time – the same age as those who were gunned down – and one couldn’t help feel deeply shaken by it all. The class photo is all the papers could have been my class. Horrible.

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