With any disaster there are stories of heroes that emerge. I have noticed in the past couple of disasters a new group that has emerged for performing courageous actions. They are the teachers. It may be surprising to some, but repeatedly we hear of teachers standing between their students and life threatening circumstances…literally laying down their lives for their students. It is not surprising to me, because I am a teacher. We are the people who work all day and then grade papers all night. We are the ones who get paid just enough to pay our bills…well almost. We are the ones who endure regularly being used as scapegoats for all society’s problems, we are blamed for low test scores, fights between students, the U.S.’s lack of competitive edge and pretty much everything else you can think of. While these comments do get under our skin, we know that the people who say them don’t have a clue as to what teachers actually do, so we let it roll off like water on a duck’s back. We continue to sacrifice, sweat, and toil raising tomorrow’s citizens because it’s important work, whether anyone recognizes it as such or not. We obviously do not do what we do for the pay, or for the accolades. It would be nice to receive those things, but they are not what motivate us to keep working at a difficult job that is less and less appreciated.
So what motivates us? The students…your kids… are the single factor that keeps us coming back. We are part nurturing mom, part protective dad, part nurse, part counselor, part social worker, part pastor, and now, most recently, part law enforcement, and part first responder. If you think all those parts makes us crazy you are probably right. We may be a bit fragmented, but one thing never wavers and that is our devotion to the students we teach. That focus is what keeps us going year after year. That is what causes some to rise to hero status in the most trying of traumas. The love they have for the kids rises up, beyond the tornado drills and lock downs, beyond the practices and what ifs. In the moment, when life or death is the choice to be made, they choose the life of their students over their own. That much is clear. They resist the urge to run to their own children. They resist the urge to flee getting themselves to safety…instead they stay with a room full of children who are scared to death. A room full of faces with teary eyes turned to them for direction. They make up games in horrible circumstances and attempt to bring peace in the midst of fear. It’s not that they are not afraid, on the contrary, they are just as afraid as anyone would be in a similar situation. It’s just that they allow courage to rise up for the sake of the children, much like any parent would do. They do all of this for the love of your children. They take their role in your child’s life very seriously. So seriously they stand between a child and a storm, or a bullet.
These are the true teachers. Not the bad ones who get all the nationwide media coverage. No those teachers, the ones in the news for any number of scandalous reasons, those are imposters. They are the few who pose as true teachers but do not have the heart for it. It is only a matter of time before they self-destruct bringing the wrath of public opinion down on us all.
Today the posers are silent. The true teachers have once again stepped up. The actions of the Oklahoma teachers testify of the depth of their hearts for their students. They may or may not get the recognition they deserve for the heroism they displayed, but had they not been in action many more children would be dead. That is a fact. That, plus what they do for kids day in and day out, makes them true heroes.