The classrooms have fallen silent. Kids have traded their backpacks for swimsuits and teachers have closed their lesson plans and headed off to summer vacation.
While these are familiar scenes at the end of any school year, 2012-13 saw teachers go above and beyond the call to protect students from the unthinkable.
In mid-December, a sleepy Connecticut town was changed forever as Adam Lanza shot and killed 20 elementary school students and six adults. The horror that emanated from Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown could have been even worse had it not been for the heroic actions of teachers and other school officials that took steps to protect their young students and saved countless lives.
For years, teachers and students have gone through the ritual of fire drills in case of an emergency.
But can anyone really prepare for what happened December 14 in Newtown?
All accounts from Sandy Hook revealed that teachers trained to instruct youngsters in the three Rs instead used instinct and common sense to protect their students as a gunman roamed the school’s halls.
This spring, we again saw teachers take miraculous steps to protect their students in the face of the unthinkable. When an EF5 tornado touched down in Moore, OK, among the many structures in its destructive path was Plaza Towers Elementary School.
While residents of Tornado Alley are well trained in what to do when a tornado strikes, news reports of the devastation again included heroic acts by teachers using their bodies to shield their students. Rescue workers searching the rubble located numerous youngsters in the care of educators.
Ironically, the heroic acts performed by teachers in different areas of the county come at a time when those in the profession are facing increased scrutiny. Common Core and increased standardized testing are leading to a change in how students are taught. Some feel the change is not for the better.
In addition, belt tightening by Long Island school districts in the face of the state imposed tax cap has again shined a light on teacher salaries and union contracts. Some are now placing blame for the financial challenges facing local schools solely on the backs of teachers. This is a simplistic if not unfair point of view.
But whatever your view, the recently ended school year showed teachers care for their students as if they were they own children. For a few it’s just a job. But for most, it’s a calling and a passion, and they are willing to do anything to help and protect their students.