A student at Sparks Middle School in Nevada opened fired and killed a teacher this morning as buses were dropping students off for class, according to news reports. The shooter also died, and two students are hospitalized in critical condition.
A 13-year-old student told the Reno Gazette-Journal, "The student was pointing a gun at the teacher after the teacher told him to put it down, and the student fired a shot at the teacher, and the teacher fell, and everybody ran away."
Officials have indicated that, although they are still investigating, indications are that the teacher tried to shield students from the gunman. Sparks Deputy Police Chief Tim Robinson said of the teacher, “In my estimation, he is a hero."
Again we are asking the question, "Why?" knowing full well that there will be no answer, at least not one that makes sense of a senseless tragedy.
Another school shooting, another story of a teacher literally and heroically giving up life to save students. Another cause for tears, for grief and for quiet relief that it wasn't my child's school.
Upon hearing of the Nevada school shooting, I remembered how my daughter's junior high school conducted a school shooting drill in the first few weeks of class, during her math class.
My daughter relayed the story of the drill to us, how the teacher explained that he would not be covering the window in the door to the classroom because to him that's a sign that there is in fact someone in the classroom and that, to him, was not a good move. He told the students that they would be using common sense and instructed them on his plan and how they were to behave.
The teacher is a former service member. He's got this covered. I don't know if they were his exact words, but my girl said that he told her and the other precious tweens in that classroom that if they stick with him and do what he says, he will get them out safely, no matter what.
No. Matter. What. That has been echoing in my head all day as I think of those at the Nevada middle school, of the parents trying to get to their children, of family of the teacher.
The way my daughter told the story of the story a few weeks ago, it was funny. I laughed when told my daughter it to me, and told her that if anything happened during the school day, I certainly hoped it was during math class. I chuckled, but I wasn't really kidding.
Her teacher used humor to deliver his message, to keep his kids with him and not just scared or distracted or chatting, or all of the above at the same time as it seems only tweens can be.
He delivered his message as the veteran teacher that he is.
That teacher is in his final year of teaching. My daughter was talking about his retirement earlier this morning, actually, and that she is his last class of the day so she will be one of his last students. We reminded her that it is only October and the last day of school is a long, long way off.
It never occurred to me this morning that there was any chance that he would not be in class at the end of the year.
After hearing the news of the teacher who died protecting students in Nevada, though, I realized that it had never occurred to me that anything would happen at my daughter's school. I'm sure the parents in Nevada weren't concerned this morning when they sent their tweens to Sparks Middle School or whose loved one went to work, to teach.
I have written a note to my daughter's math teacher. It is woefully inadequate. There is no proper or even sufficient way to thank someone for making it clear that they will protect your precious child, even at the expense of their own life. I can only hope that my weak attempt at doing so will let him know that his bravery is appreciated and that he is held in the highest esteem. I wanted him to know that I'm sad that he has to even think about school shooting drills and that I want him to be able to focus on educating.
I want him and all of my daughter's teachers to know that they are heroes, and that I very much wish that they didn't have to be.