I've avoided this post. My intent when the day started Friday was to write about our CCE tradition of having "Auntie Claus" visit and read to every grade level throughout the day. It's a wonderful day where I get to spend time with every child before we send them off for the break. We talk about the important life lessons you should learn in this season of giving - it's better to give than receive, sometimes you have to believe to see, getting everything you wish for doesn't always turn out like you plan and that taking care of each other is the most important thing in life. I always send them off with the reminder that I love them and I mean it - I do love each and every one of them, as if they were my own.
The day didn't go quite as planned, in fact no day since Friday has gone as planned for me. I have spent much time watching the news and trying to make sense of the senseless. I've spent time thinking about those children, the ones who were killed and the ones who weren't. I've spent time thinking about those teachers and staff who tried to protect their students only to lose their lives and of those left behind. I've spent a lot of time thinking about the principal who sacrificed everything trying to stop the madness and I've swallowed down a huge lump in my throat over and over again. I've always understood the weight of my responsibilities as an elementary school school principal and I have never felt burdened by it. I have never been afraid.
The safety of the children entrusted to my care has always been my number one priority. Emergency plans and procedures have always been in place, designed to check and double check on teachers and students. All of those plans have been reviewed over and over in my mind this weekend and I have spent the day reworking them to add caveats for a danger I could only scarcely imagine before Friday. There will be increased expectations, changes implemented so that every stakeholder feels secure. This school must continue to be a safe place for my children and it is of paramount importance to me that they are reassured as they return on January 2.
Ironically something else happened at school on Friday which serves to punctuate the absolute need for everyone involved in the lives of children to focus on making sure they are taken care of emotionally. None of us can possibly know exactly what the future holds but it is our duty as grown ups to deal with what we are faced with and search for ways to help our children cope with life. We must teach them to love and respect themselves and one another, deal with disappointments appropriately and focus on all the possibilities before them. For some direction on how to handle this tragedy with our children please see the resources found here.
To every person impacted by the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary I offer my heartfelt condolences. I promise to always remember your losses and how they have strengthened my resolve to love and care for every member of my school community.