Sarasota, FL High: 75 Low: 59
I'm sorry to say it's a sad blog today...We spent most of the afternoon watching the horrific news on TV about Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut. Our hearts go out to the parents of the children at that school, and we are saying our prayers for them. Makes you want to cry....
It brought back some memories for me. I taught special education at the elementary school level for 27 years, the last 7 were at the middle school level. I watched the levels of security change over the years from anybody and their brother could walk into school at any time of day any time they wanted and go straight to their child's classroom if they chose not to check in at the office, to locked doors and signing in before entering my own middle school building after I retired, when going back for visits.
I remember a bank robbery one time in Mishawaka, IN years ago when our elementary school went into lockdown for hours because it was near the bank. The kids were locked into their classrooms and not allowed to leave the classroom to use the bathrooms as the bank robbers had been spotted on school grounds in the nearby woods. Kids had to pee in a wastebasket if they had to go! That seemed to be a little extreme but it was a necessary precaution. I was in a corner classroom with windows facing the woods for two sides of the classroom. We were so exposed! I wasn't really scared. I actually thought it was another drill designed to look and feel like the real thing. After all, fire drills get to be so routine that it's automatic we don't think much about it. This was just a new drill we were working on, a sign of the times. I pulled the shades and we gathered in the opposite corner of the room away from the windows. We played games and I tried to figure out what was going on. All we knew was school was in a lockdown, but we didn't know why. This was back in the late nineties, if I remember right.....A few people had cell phones back then, but it was such an unusual situation that the school hadn't really set up a clear policy for such a situation, and we teachers didn't know what was going on. Some were trying to find out news on their cell phones by calling local TV stations as far as what was going down. We were shocked once we found out that the lockdown was because of a bank robbery!
I remember times when we were warned about ugly custody battles and that we were not to release students to a non-custodial parent if they came to our classroom. I've witnessed some scary threats to fellow teachers by irate parents. I've seen and heard parents threaten to beat up teachers, this being many years ago. I'm sure things like that are on the increase now... But you don't forget things like that when you are there experiencing it. The things kids would tell me about the violence in their homes was a depressing part of my job. I would always try to get the school counselor involved to try and get help for my kids. Now many schools don't even have those any more and they need them now more than ever! School was a haven for many of my low income kids. They would hate to go home for the holidays because of their awful home environments.
I heard a news person say something today about schools need mental security checks as well as metal security, and isn't that the truth! With spending cuts in the mental health fields, and sheltered homes and treatment centers for mental patients with serious disorders being reduced, the chance for more violence in our very own neighborhoods, schools and our environment remains a very real possibility.
What a sad, sad day for Newtown, Connecticut and our country.......