By guest blogger Clara Pak
As of today, half a year has passed since tragedy struck in Newtown, Conn. In remembrance of this somber anniversary, Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, and Tom Kuroski, president of the AFT affiliate in Newtown, co-wrote an op-ed piece for a local Connecticut paper, The News-Times. In honoring the fallen educators of Sandy Hook Elementary School, they also recognize all teachers and school staff across the country whose “first instinct is to love and protect their children.” They write:
This is who teachers and school staff are. Not only do these women and men dedicate their lives to helping our children expand their minds and achieve their dreams, they also love, nurture and even give their lives in the service of our sons and daughters, grandsons and granddaughters, and nieces and nephews.
In the days following the Newtown shooting, we spoke to countless teachers whose first thought was not about themselves but about their students. How would they cope? What can we do to help them? How can we bring them some normalcy following this soul-shattering tragedy?
They point out that, since Dec. 14, there have been numerous other instances of educators risking their lives for their students—including those teachers in Oklahoma who “shielded their students with their bodies as the tornado ripped apart their school, telling them that they were loved and singing to calm them down.”
The Newtown shootings forced the country to confront the need to create “safe, nurturing, welcoming and collaborative schools,” they go on to say, where students and educators both can feel secure and protected.
Readers: Feel free to leave your own reflections on Newtown—and the incredible sacrifices so many teachers are willing to make for their students—in the comments section below.
A version of this news article first appeared in the Teaching Now blog.