Wednesday, September 9, 2015

My Glass is Full.

The world is a good place, I believe.  I have always been a "glass is half full" person, viewing not only as half full, but with the potential to be completely full, if the right person wanders by with a pitcher.   

My prevalence for such belief was reinforced today, as we started the day at the high school in lockdown mode, funneling every single student through single files lines, with police and administrators searching every single lunchbox, backpack, and instrument case, after a reported threat posted to social media.  I stood at the entrance, in my shirt covered with tiny pink flamingos, in stark contrast to the latex-glove-wearing police officers in bullet proof vests.    My co-worker, also assigned to controlling the opening of locked doors to students after the search, received a text from his wife, "Don't Die." Interestingly, that was our exact plan.

What determines a "credible threat" in the world today?  I really don't know the answer to that question.  I do know, however, that despite the criticism of social media by many, it was the very medium that caused the initial threat that also alerted the authorities long before the school doors opened.  (Remember, the glass is half full, and always has the potential to hold more.)  The administration mobilized the staff, and we all did what we needed to do to get through the day.  

On October 30, 1985, less than three weeks before the anticipated arrival of my firstborn, Sylvia Seegrist walked into the Springfield Mall, (less than five miles from my house), with a gun, killing three people.  It was too close to home, considering my husband and I had been in that very mall the evening before.

On September 11, 2001, I was one of those parents who drove to the high school to pick up my son, thinking that was better than waiting for the bus to deliver him home.  (His brother was being picked up at the middle school by a neighbor.)  Today, as I saw parents responding to phone calls and texts from their kids, coming and signing them out to spend the day at home, I got it.  I was them, fourteen years ago this coming Friday. Yes, more than 2/3 of the student body left before the beginning of first period, with parental permission. And yes, we, as teachers, understood.

On October 2, 2006, I was working in an elementary computer lab with gifted kids, when Lancaster County -- and the world -- stood in stunned silence at the news that Charles Carl Roberts IV shot ten Amish girls at their school in Nickel Mines, killing five of them.  I'd driven by this school, and marveled at the peacefulness of the rolling hills and crisp white clapboard fences in this small rural community, less than 20 miles from my own home.

I still shop at malls, and drive through the countryside.  There have been dozens of incidents in dozens of schools, that made the news, with horrifying outcomes. There are also literally thousands of schools, and malls, and countrysides, that have had a peaceful day today.   So rather than dwelling on one threat, at one school, where I happened to be scheduled to teach today, I am choosing to celebrate the people who made a difference for me, and my students.  

A text from a student at lunch time:  "I'm texting as a friend...how are you?"

A text from a friend in the city:  "Hey... is everything OK????"

An email from friends in other buildings offering prayers and "thinking about you" messages.

A message from a parent:  "Anxiously awaiting your blog post for THIS day."

Tomorrow we'll go back to learning the intended curriculum.  Today we learned a lot about safety, communication, and what is truly important. For what really matters to me, at work, is the constant flow of friends, students and colleagues, carrying pitchers, and keeping my glass full of optimism for my world.