Earlier today, a gunman entered Sandy Hook elementary school in Newtown, CT and killed at least 27 people, most of whom were children. Although the facts of the event are still unraveling, I wanted to share with you how upset I am, how much my heart goes out to the families and friends of the victims and some of my thoughts.
I always feel safe at my school. (I am in Durham, CT which is not near Newtown at all.) And I think most students look at their schools as a safe harbor as well. How much longer will I or students, faculty, and staff feel this way about their schools?
Because a school shooting has now hit Connecticut soil – and at an elementary school no less! – I would venture a guess we may see more heightened security, ID badges and metal detectors down the line. But please note, this incident did not happen at one of the inner city schools. Newtown is a sleepy suburban town, the absolute last place you’d expect something like this happen.
I work at a residential facility for boys ages 13 to 18 who are diagnosed with substance abuse. Most come straight out of jail or the CT Juvenile Training School (kid jail). In addition, I’ve worked as the school administrator for the Hartford Juvenile Detention Center and started my teaching career in Bridgeport public schools. Honestly, I’ve never been afraid of going to work. In fact, I’ve always relished working in these environments because I know I’m really good at it and can connect with the students. Perhaps it’s because the neighborhoods and home lives of these students are so chaotic they value their schools and try to keep the “yucky stuff” out in the streets.
Right now, as I type this, I’m sitting at my desk in my school and feel so miserable. As the principal, it would be my responsibility to keep my students and staff safe, as I’m sure the principal of Sandy Hook elementary was doing when she was shot and killed. Frankly, this one hits way too close to home.