Teachers willing to protect students

As a teacher in Everett, I’ve taught many of your children over the years, and I’ll teach many more in the years to come. Writing is my way of working through tough issues. Below are my thoughts on the events of Dec. 14. I hope they help you understand the heart of a teacher…

Teachers. “Summers off. Going on strike at the drop of a hat. Those who can’t, teach. Glorified daycare.” We’ve heard those negative statements over and over for years. What we don’t often hear is: hero. I would love for you to look into the heart of your child’s teacher to see what makes a true educator.

At the core is someone who knows he can’t do it alone. Every morning for the past 17 years, I have prayed on my way to work; I ask specifically for wisdom, patience, love, and strength. Teachers rely on faith, parents, colleagues, and constant research into best practices and the latest medical advice regarding children. We work as a team to pull out of kids what they never dreamed they could accomplish.

Every waking moment (and sometimes as we sleep) we think about, worry about, and plan next steps for your children. In a classroom of 30 students, we need to be hyper-aware of every sound, movement, and emotion — we’re “on” every second of the day. And because each child is treading through life on a different path, we must deal with each student and each situation differently, according to the needs of that child.

At the heart of it all, though, is our oath. This is not a contract that we signed with pen and paper. It is a bond we made with ourselves, our students, and you — their parents. At the core of your child’s teacher, etched in granite, are the words “protect them at all costs.” Every day as teachers enter their classrooms all across this great country of ours, teachers understand their students are more important than they are. Teachers understand and accept the responsibility of caring for your children; and teachers, even though it is extremely rare, are ready to step in to give their own lives to save children. We saw this in Connecticut. We heard one teacher say that as her students were huddled in a corner she told them that she loved them. She wanted those to be the last words they heard if they weren’t going to make it. She wanted to drown out the sounds of gunfire with a reassuring voice of love. We heard about the custodian who ran up and down hallways giving warning so that teachers could lock doors and hide kids. And as more details come out, I’m quite certain that we will hear of the heroic last moments of the teachers and administrators who gave their lives for the children.

I don’t write this seeking praise. I write to reflect and deal with this tragedy in my own way. Teachers don’t often talk of their deep allegiance to their students, but quietly, in each heart, teachers willingly pledge daily to protect the children they serve. Teachers serve their communities because of something inside of each one. There’s a heart beating proud and strong — a heart that earnestly desires for every child to live a long life, achieving every goal and aspiration she or he can dream. Hold your child tightly, and pray for your child’s teacher.

Bob Cooke