The student news site of Mountlake Terrace High School in Mountlake Terrace, Washington.

The Hawkeye

The student news site of Mountlake Terrace High School in Mountlake Terrace, Washington.

The Hawkeye

The student news site of Mountlake Terrace High School in Mountlake Terrace, Washington.

The Hawkeye

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The Hawkeye May 2024
1st Amend Award School

The harrowing thoughts of an elementary school teacher

Teaching and learning in a post-Uvalde world
School+headshot+photo+of+Spruce+Elementary+teacher+Thea+Klever.
Spruce Elementary teacher Thea Klever.

I got the news while my kids were at recess, and my heart stopped. I walked outside to pick them up and was immediately swarmed with hugs and little hands that wanted to hold mine. 15 little voices started sharing their recess stories with me all at the exact same moment – I held back tears. What if it happened while they were out here?

I forced a smile and walked hand in hand with my line leaders while our class followed behind us full of giggles, kiddos skipping and sneaky ones hopping out of line to pick me flowers. It’s a long way back to our room, I thought to myself. We got back to class and I closed my door, then exhaled.

The kids ran to their seats excited to see their second grade buddy come in and read them a story. I watched their little faces light up as he walked in, and I looked at our big window and thought about how quickly I could get the blinds down if I needed to.

Our buddy sat down to read and I wondered about how fast I could then get across the room to fully lock my door and shut off the lights. What could I barricade this door with? If I needed help, what KINDERGARTEN STUDENT would I ask? Of course I had already thought about this, but I was running through my plan again. Maybe that table over there would be better. Maybe this kid would respond quickly.

The kids asked about a picture in the book and I wondered if I’d be able to calm them down enough to sit silently with me in a corner when we needed to hide. Then I thought, I need to change where we hide in this classroom, that corner is too visible from the window. Maybe over there…

The kids asked about the picture again and I was snapped back to reality and answered their question. I watched them eagerly listen to their friend read and felt my heart racing thinking of how much I love my 15 children and the students at my school. I would do anything for them and that includes fighting off a gunman to protect them.

I went to school to be a teacher. I wanted to teach so that I could change lives and help children reach their dreams. I wanted to teach so that I could be someone in a child’s life telling them they mattered and how much they were loved. I wanted to teach so that I could create a safe place for children to learn and grow. The very fact that I have to teach my children how to respond during a lockdown by showing them how we might hide, run and barricade doors makes me sick. This is not what school should be. I should not have to do this. My children should not have to worry about this. And yes, they do worry.
5 and 6-year-olds know a whole lot more than anyone gives them credit for. I also think through my plan way more than I care to admit, because I fear it will happen. Because it continues to happen. Because it WILL continue to happen if something doesn’t change.

I am a teacher. Not in the military. My kids are students. Not soldiers. We should not have to CONTINUALLY WORRY and prepare for an attack by a gunman. I seriously don’t get how this is still a question. There are people dying left and right, and on that day 19 children and two teachers were murdered while at school. And yet, gun rights are still being prioritized?! What the hell is wrong with our country?

I don’t know what you have to do tomorrow, but I know that I’ll be walking into a building where I have to think about and plan for the ways in which I will try to protect the lives of the children around me – and that’s everyday life for a teacher.

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