My teammates and I all gathered in a circle for our weekly planning meeting and this week our agenda was blank. Instead of our usual one hundred item checklist that typically consists of data tracking, creating differentiated lessons, making copies, and sending letters, we discussed a more pressing issue. An issue that has sadly enough become more prevalent in the past week. "What can we really do to keep our kids safe?", we repeatedly asked. And when I say our kids, I’m not talking about our biological children; however, trust me when I tell you that these tiny humans are more than just students. For the past four years, I have made sure my “kids” have food when they are hungry, a hug when they are sad, a guiding voice when they are down, even a bed when they don't have a place to sleep. And believe me when I say, that if the time ever came that I had to protect the lives of my kids, I would do so without hesitation, but why does that need to be a thought that even crosses my mind? Please tell me why I need to fear a weapon that could kill my students in a matter of seconds. Explain to me why 6 and 7-year-old children cry, balled up in the corner of my classroom, shaking with fear even when I’ve explained we are simply practicing in case of an emergency. Not only are we stripping children of their innocence, we are taking away precious learning time because kids are afraid to walk through the doors of school. Read that previous sentence again to yourself and think of the absurdity of it. It sounds ridiculous because school is meant to be a place in which children thrive. A place of comfort and love; somewhere children look forward to going. A friend of mine recently chose not to send her son to school because of a threat that was made and she wasn’t alone in doing so. Thousands of families all over the country have been making this decision, which is going to continue to happen if there isn’t a change in policy.
Now, I completely understand that I am diving headfirst into a heated debate by feeling this way and I have even had a few people ask me what this has to do with my business, which is simply to provide books to children. My response to you is EVERYTHING. Of course, our mission is to create a program in which we develop a passion and love for reading, but we do so by practicing kindness, celebrating diversity, and embracing one another; none of which I feel I could do while being armed. I am an educator whose purpose is a multitude of things day in and day out, but by no means is my purpose to carry a gun at school. Never will I take the chance of there being a tragic accident in my classroom because we can’t come to terms as human beings that we need to do better for our children. Doing better is not having a rifle in the corner of my room for my first graders to see while learning about famous Americans who fought peacefully to change our world for the better. My kids will not be taught that violence is the answer to our world’s problems. My students will continue to grow every year knowing that they are a part of a community, a classroom family, that encourages one another in times of struggle, that offers a hand when someone has fallen, and that loves each other for our individuality. So, let’s stand with our children and demand a change. From this day forward, all I’ll continue to carry in my classroom is kindness.