It’s a whole new world… we must be brave.

A few weeks ago the mother of one of my colleagues was the hero in a school shooting incident here in West Virginia. My colleague is Jessica Salfia, and her mother is Twila Smith.  Mrs. Smith was held hostage in a classroom by a 14-year-old freshman with a gun.  The following is an excerpt from an article about her and the incident:

Since no one passing by in the hallway could see what was happening inside, Smith and her students spent the entire period trapped with the gunman.

“I just kept asking him to let everybody leave and he and I would stay, anything I could think of, just telling him that he hadn’t gone too far,” Smith said.

When the bell rang, other students began knocking on the door.

“In my mind, nobody else was coming in that room,” Smith said.

But Smith turned the incoming students back and signaled another teacher who, called for help. The school was evacuated. Police and the boy’s pastor were able to convince him to let the hostages go and surrender.

Smith is credited with keeping her cool, keeping the gunman calm, and saving lives.

Even though, Smith thought she was going to be killed, she was still trying to protect her students.

“I’m in charge of them when they’re on my watch and I hope when my kids went to school, the other people felt like that too,” Smith said. “When they walk in here, we’re protecting, we’re supposed to teach them and we’re supposed to take care of them.”

But for her – the kids are the real heroes.

“I can’t say enough about these kids, I have never seen bravery like this in my life,” Smith said

She is a hero.  Period.

Not long ago, my hometown of Sterling, VA experienced a shooting at a bus stop. The young man from my alma mater, Park View High School, was shot and killed at a bus stop because he refused to join a gang… or so I’ve heard.

Just a few minutes ago, my husband read to me a Facebook post about a school in Oklahoma that is training teachers to be able to carry weapons concealed on their person to protect the students. Superintendent Eric Smith explains,

“It’s just the fact of the matter,” he said. “So much is happening worldwide. There have been a lot of changes since we were in school.”

Should the unthinkable happen, smaller schools without resource officers are left to fend for themselves as first responders speed toward the scene. Putting concealed weapons in administrators’ possession allows them to provide a more effective line of resistance until help arrives.

“A school shooting situation, even in a small town like Wilson, it is over when the police department arrives,” Labeth said. “A tactical team would take 15 minutes coming out of Ardmore. It’s just another level of protection.”

Benson said the fact that schools and churches are soft targets also necessitated taking proactive steps to provide another element of protection on the school’s campuses. Those selected to take the class were done in a strategic way so that every building has a level of security.

The classes take place four nights a week at the campus of Southern Oklahoma Technolgy Center. Each phase takes two weeks, which will be a month and a half in total. For the school’s employees, it is well worth it.

“I hope we never have to use it,” Smith said. “I hope it’s a deterrent. That being said, when those kids are here, they are ours and I will do anything to protect them.”

I’ve also heard that Texas has begun arming the teachers. As my husband and I talked about it, he said that he had no doubt that if someone were threatening to do harm to my students that I would not hesitate to shoot that person.  I also have no doubt that I would be in between the shooter and my students… even if they were some of the somewhat annoying ones! 😉

Last week I took a gun safety course; completed the shooting requirement in only 10 rounds with my husband’s revolver; and applied for my concealed carry permit. Yes, when West Virginia arms the teachers, I will be ready. I agree that it is sad that this is the world we live in now… but it is the reality. Huxley wrote about a Brave New World…to me, it’s a new world, and WE must be brave.

Teachers don’t get much respect in our society. Sure, people give lip service to appreciating teachers, but when there is a problem with young people, the teachers are to blame…. when students aren’t as prepared for college as they should be, blame the teachers… We take much blame and get little credit for good things that are happening with our students in our classrooms. We also have very little possibility for advancement and even less possibility for the higher wages. We know this, but we give our hearts and souls to our students anyway.

We are the last line of defense for our students. We must do our jobs with confidence, bravery, and passion every day. I believe every parent would expect nothing less of us.