I’m a Retired Teacher Who Has Lived Abroad
The Texas Massacre at Robb Elementary will haunt me forever.
The recent Texas massacre of 19 children and 2 teachers at Robb Elementary will haunt me for the rest of my life.
I was a fifth grade teacher for many years. Twenty years to be exact. Then, I moved from the classroom to administration. For six years, I ran a large elementary school in the state of Maine. I loved being a teacher. Technically, I was in school most of my life. From kindergarten until I retired, I was either a student or a teacher. My life revolved around the school calendar. The beginning of the year for me was when school started not the month of January.
I’ve been retired for almost 18 years.
I retired at age 54 in order to pursue a life of longterm travel. I was a nomad for four years and still winter in Spain. I’ve spent many months at a time in lots of different countries. My apartment in Spain is right down the street from an elementary school. I walk by often and see kids on the playground or parents picking their kids up at the end of the day. I live in a small fishing village on the Mediterranean Sea. Most kids are able to walk to and from school.
School life in Spain looks remarkably like anywhere else in the world.
Children act the same. Parents are the same. The teaching profession is roughly the same. Even school buildings and playgrounds are structured in an easily identifiable way. Bells ring, school holidays are enjoyed, janitors clean up after the staff and students, and the principal rushes about attending to everything. It’s the same, except for one glaring difference.
Children in Spain are not massacred in their classrooms on a regular basis.
Their parents don’t spend sleepless nights worrying about the safety of their children at school. Teachers aren’t required to practice shooter drills with their students. Principals aren’t worried that on any given day someone will break into the school and go on a killing rampage.
That’s a BIG difference.
I’m not saying that Spain is free of social problems. I’ve lived all over the world and have yet to find a country without domestic issues. People can be mean in Spain, some parents are negligent, drugs and alcohol problems exist, poverty is alive and well, racism thrives, and more, but regularly occurring mass shootings are not a part of the social fabric of Spanish life.
I want that.
I have a granddaughter who I worry about every day. She is the love of my life. Like most grandparents, I’d do anything for her. If something bad is to happen to a member of my family, I’d just as soon it happened to me. I couldn’t bear it if something horrible happened to her. It’s such a traumatic thought that I can barely put it into words.
Yet, everywhere I go with her, I must consider her safety.
Crowds, churches, schools, malls, movie theaters, you name it, are all potentially dangerous because someone with an axe to grind might have a weapon of war that they have decided to fire into a crowd of strangers for a few seconds, killing dozens in less times that it takes to draw a breath.
It’s over for a dozen children.
Another dozen has been mown down.
Can you even imagine standing at the head of your classroom while teaching and suddenly a crazed stranger barges in and within seconds has killed ten children in front of your very eyes. Mere seconds!
You’re reading out loud and the kids are doodling with crayons while they listen to the story of the day.
Sun is streaming through the window. Birds are singing outdoors. The school year is almost over. Everyone is feeling excited for summer break. You’re the teacher. You love your students. You’ve been with them for many hours each day for the entire school year. You know them well. Each one has an endearing quality that you now recognize. It’s been a busy year, but you’ll look back on it down the road with plenty of fond memories and humorous anecdotes.
Except you won’t!
If you live, you will be traumatized forever. Nothing will ever be the same again. And, most likely you won’t live. Because even if you have a gun strapped on your body like many politicians want teachers to start doing, the next two seconds would take your life before you had the time to drop the book that was in your hands.
This is America!
This is what it means to go to school in America, to be a child in America, to be a parent in America, to be a teacher in America, to be a principal in America, to go to the grocery store in America, to go to the movies in America, to go to a festival in America, to go to a concert in America, to go to a church in America, to go to college in America.
If we don’t fix this problem, we’re insane.
Insane! I will never understand my fellow Americans. They have dozens of examples all over the world. Spain is only one of many countries that doesn’t have to live with such ongoing danger.
We need treatment.
We need an intervention. We need to meet with the leaders of countries from all over the world and ask them to help us solve this domestic issue. We need help!
Help us, please. Canada, help us. Spain, help us. New Zealand, help us. Australia, help us. Somebody, help us.
Teresa Roberts is a retired educator, author, world traveler, and professional myth buster. You can find her books on Amazon.