On December 14, 2012, I walked into Sandy Hook School for the last time. It was an ordinary, cold, sunny Friday. I stopped at the office, signed in, chatted with my principal, for the last time, and started my day with my students. Then a loud crash, 154 gunshots blaring through the speakers, hiding in the coats, trying to sing with my students, trying to read to them, trying to drown out the sounds. Terror. Crying. Running. That was the other me, for the last time.
So many decisions have to be made after a school shooting: Keep teaching? Where? How? Same grade or new? If you were at a bank during a robbery, you’d never bank there again. You’d probably change your whole banking experience. But I’m a teacher. It’s what I was trained to do — what I had been doing for 20 years. So I keep doing it. I now have a key around my neck and make sure my door’s always locked. I endure lockdowns and evacuations. I listen to the insane national conversation about arming teachers. School in the United States is not the same: Parents are terrified their kids won’t come home, and teachers are terrified they might have the responsibility of keeping their students safe during a shooting.