A dear friend of mine and member of our church, Melanie Atkinson, shared this on Facebook Sunday night. Melanie is a teacher at Summit High School here in Mansfield. I asked her permission to share her reflections here on the blog. I pray that every teacher heading back to school today knows how deeply we appreciate their ministry and their sacrifice on behalf of our kids.
Here are Melanie’s words.
I’ve wanted to be a teacher since the second grade. In high school I had good grades and caring adults would often ask me why I “just wanted to be a teacher”. Why? I had amazing teachers along the way who challenged me beyond what I thought I could do. Teachers like my high school English teacher Andrea Webb and others like my youth director Danny Tenney who weren’t exactly “teacher” by title but still taught me so much.
As a teacher, I hoped to do that for someone else. Goodness knows that I have failed plenty of kids along the way (not failed them grade-wise–although there’s some of that for sure–but failed to be the kind of teacher they needed) but I think I’ve succeeded with a few too. I love seeing them on facebook now all grown up and doing amazing things like school board president Warren Seay or Brooklyn science teacher Robert Lee Rodriguez II. Some are married with children. Others are still in school getting degree after degree. I am proud of them all. I can’t claim any of their success…only that “I knew them when” and that we had some good times together reading, writing, and discussing all kinds of things.
The stories of the bravery of those teachers in Connecticut are amazing. I am not sure how I would respond in that kind of life-or-death situation. I pray that I would have the bravery and wherewithal of Kaitlin Roig, a teacher who hid her students in a small bathroom and kept them quiet. Or the library aide who hid her students in a storage closet and read to them to keep them calm. I’m not sure I’ve got that in me. But this I do know–in her interview Kaitlin Roig said that Sandy Hook elementary is full of teachers who love their students and would do anything for them. That is quite obvious from the stories coming out of this terrible tragedy. But, you know, I think Charlotte Anderson Elementary–where my son goes to school–also has teachers who love their students and would do anything for them. And so does DeSoto High School where I worked for 7 amazing years and Summit High School where I have the privilege to work now. Teachers really do care about students. We are often treated like “just teachers”…since, after all, “anyone can teach”.
But, we really do love our students.
I’ve never been more proud to be a teacher. I am humbled to share the same profession with the brave teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary–both those who died for their children and those who lived through this unspeakable tragedy. For the families of those teachers who sacrificed their lives and for the families of those babies they died trying to save. For the teachers and students who lived through this and will return to school and try to finish out this school year. For healing for us all. Keep praying!