My university classes are officially finished for another semester. I still have a couple loose ends, but for all intents and purposes, this semester is coming to a close. This has been a hard one. It was hard for different reasons then my first semester. I’m learning that each new semester poses its own unique challenges. I’ve been lucky to have an amazing advocate on my side. She protected me and helped me feel supported when I had to stand my ground on some tough issues. And I’m thankful for the lessons she taught me.
On December 8th, I was thinking about the profound loss of John Lennon’s death. It is such a tragedy that a man who professed about peace was taken out of this life so violently. When I went to my internship on Thursday 12/9, all the teachers were a buzz. Someone had found a magazine clip full of bullets in a classroom in 2nd period the day before. The school remained on lock-down for the rest of the day while every police branch in North Eastern Colorado (including the SWAT team) searched the school. I was glad I hadn’t been there on Wednesday, but I was even more glad that no one had been hurt.
Growing up in Littleton, I know first hand about the violence guns can bring to a school. My parents live less than a mile from Columbine High School. I was a freshman in college at the time of the shooting. I have never felt so helpless as I did that April day, watching it all on the news from my dorm room. At the time, they didn’t know if other high schools were involved and I couldn’t get a hold of my mom or my brother at a neighboring high school. A friend of our family’s son was killed in the shooting and those following weeks we all lived in a surreal trance state – this kind of violence doesn’t happen in Littleton, Colorado…
Last night, I told my mom and dad what had happened at the high school on Wednesday. They were relieved that I hadn’t been there. I know they don’t like me teaching in schools with such high gang activity, but we learned from the Columbine tragedy that violence can happen anywhere. Even in sleepy Littleton. Even outside a residential building near Central Park.
I know that I will continue to teach in high-risk schools, where gun violence is a real threat. I’m passionate about teaching in urban schools and this is a risk I have to be willing to take. Because the reality is, that violence can creep into the most benign situations and you have to keep living. Pondering the “what if’s” of life only keeps you in a state of panic and that’s not really living is it?
John Lennon’s beautiful voice has been in my head on repeat this week and I can’t help but wonder what other amazing lessons he could have taught us, had he not been silenced. For now, I can revel in the music he did leave us, image a better world, and be a being of peace and love.