As I was following the events at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, throughout the day, I couldn't stop thinking about the students and families in Merton, Wisconsin, a town not unlike Newtown. Below is an email to our staff in Merton that references Angela Maiers' blog about how teachers can help students as they return to school on Monday.
"Good evening to you all, Merton family. As I think about the horrific events of Newtown, Connecticut, a town much like Merton, I am thankful that each and every one of you will be in front of our students on Monday morning. Our children need each of you more on Monday than you can even fathom. I was on twitter most of the day, reading about what happened and when I wasn't on twitter, I was thinking about what happened. As I was outside for recess this afternoon with our 4th graders, I was more diligent as I looked around the property, often looking past the students to the horizon or down the parking lot. I was outside at the end of the day making sure, as much as I could, that our students were safe. I hugged Lauren in her Science class, reassured her in her Spanish class, and explained, as best as I could, the tragic events that took place in Connecticut. Being stronger than I am most of the time, she reassured me that she would never let anything happen to me in our school. And this from the mouth of an 11 year old 7th grader.
Our students will have questions on Monday, and my hope is that the tweet that I have included here will help you with the questions that our students will have.
If you have children at home, give them an extra hug tonight, and tomorrow, and the next day. If your children are grown, give them a call, like my mother did today to her three grown children. If you have nieces and nephews or grandchildren, surprise them with a phone call or an unexpected visit.
We may never understand why today's tragedy occurred, but we can still discuss it with all of our kids, whether they are students or relatives, and let them know that we are here for them to protect them, to love them, and to reassure them that we will do all that we can to keep them safe.
May you all have a weekend filled with family and friends.
I hope that we will all be prepared for our students on Monday, greeting each and every one with a smile, a hug, a fist bump, a high five, or any other means you normally use in your school. They need to know that we love each and every one of them, not just on Monday, but every day of the year.