I am a teacher.
I do not spend all day with the young people of this
state as I also am an editor at the New Haven Register.
But I also am a teacher.
Since 2008, I have been an adjunct instructor at
Southern Connecticut State University. It is my honor to be part of the
highly-devoted and professional team of educators who help hatch the new
generation of the Fourth Estate.
Working very closely with students is part of what
this department does and part of what I do. We have been delighted at the
Register to work with a number of SCSU interns over the years.
are all deeply mourning in the state of Connecticut and Southern this week also
is grieving its own: Sandy Hook Principal
Dawn Lafferty Hochsprung, school psychologist Mary Sherlach and teachers Anne
Marie Murphy and Victoria Soto have direct connections to the university.
These educators gave their lives to
protect those they loved: the students.
It is an issue I have thought about
before, given the amount of time I spend in a classroom.
That’s does not mean I do not feel safe on the SCSU
campus. I do. I have never felt otherwise.
I have known SCSU Police Chief Joseph Dooley for 20
years and he is a pro. Moreover, I know how much he cares; when I was the
victim of a crime many years ago, he was the Orange police detective who
handled it. I know safety is a priority for the SCSU police department.
But as gunmen repeatedly teach us that no place is
immune from becoming a target, I have over the years as a teacher considered
what I would do if I were faced with such unimaginable terror. It has
to run through the minds of every person who works in a classroom.
It is not an easy thing to consider. No one has ever
pointed a gun at me.
But in thinking about the responsibility we owe
young people, don’t we owe them concern about their safety along with doing our
best to make sure they learn?
In classrooms I have taught in, I have thought about
where exits are and what a good route of escape would be. I have thought about
how quickly students would be able to leave a building. I have thought about
where they could hide.
I like that doors are kept locked when no one is in a
I have thought about the need to call 911 and while
students typically are not permitted to use cell phones in my class, I do not
require them to be turned off.
I subscribe to the SCSU emergency alerts. The staff really
does them and they are helpful and topical.
These thoughts do no preoccupy me. I am instead
preoccupied with the amazing students I teach semester after semester; the joy
of being in a classroom, the experience of helping them to grow.
Yet, I also have thought about confronting an
intruder. I simply do not know what I would do, even though I hope I would act
as a leader. Would anyone know?
The teachers and leaders at Sandy Hook elementary