Thursday, October 22, 2015

It's bad to find out the making the news.

No news is good news, the saying goes. As a substitute aide and health aide in the schools this is one of many sayings that are near and dear to me along with but not limited to: Let sleeping dogs (and children) lie.  Beware of Greeks (and students) bearing gifts.  If they are quiet, they are up to something. and of course Fever Free for 24 hours before they return!

After enjoying the long weekend together with friends, movies, sleepovers, pizza, and too many late nights no one was looking forward to school on Tuesday. Not even me. I headed back with my youngest son because I was subbing at his school.  This would be a new position for me, it was someone I had never subbed for before and those days are always rough.  There is no learning curve for a sub - you are jumping into someone else's shoes and you need to hit the ground running. Which we did not. My son was throwing a fit about shoes (apropos) and I got to school about 20 minutes late and totally flustered.

But the first hour was without students so as I took a breath, acclimated myself to the Aide's schedule and ran errands and copies for the teachers. Just as I was feeling like I might be able to handle the rest of the day the announcement came; "Teachers and staff please evacuate the building immediately. Evacuate just as you would for a fire. All staff evacuate the building."

Being without a class I was almost the first out of the building.  I watched as teachers and students calmly and quietly filed out of the building and into place. Teachers counted and shh'd while other staff members took up their posts and made radio contact with administration.  There was a lot of speculation among the crowd both from students and adults. I could hear both saying things like "Do you smell smoke? I do!" or "Do you think there was something wrong with the building?"

It was literally less than two minutes before we heard two short whistles and the Principal shouted to teachers to get students to the very back of the property but to stay as far away from the building as possible. One teacher right away said "It sounds like we are getting what's been going around the state." What the Flu?? For this no-news watching person it would be another 10 minutes before I was told there was a bomb threat called into the school.

Now, Let me say that having a background in safety, my first clue that it was not a fire was that there were no fire trucks pulling up to the school only 6 police cars. As we walked the students to a location a safe distance from the building, I could see that there was an ambulance parked in a cul-de-sac that butts up to the property, but not in plain site of the students.

It was a beautiful fall day - a little chilly if anything but a great day to be outside.  Let's keep it that way.  Every teacher, aide, custodian, cook, and volunteer there focused their attention on the students. It became clear we were going to be outside for quite a while and staff was briefed quickly every 20-30 minutes and the message was consistent. Teachers started games of all kinds. I saw popcorn, hot potato and simon says.  They practiced vocabulary or math facts by scrimmaging other classes. Those of us not with a class jumped in wherever we could, finding tissues for the bloody nose, band aids for a splinter, and soothing words for a tummy ache.

I would not find out until later that night that we were one of 7 schools that day that received a bomb threat and many more around the country in the past weeks.  What is this all about- Fear? Probably. Many parents came up to school and pulled their children out saying I just want to hug them. I get that....but what if that is exactly what someone intended. Get as many people there as possible, and then reek havoc.  Is the intent that our schools are not safe and they can't handle a situation like this?

Let me tell you from what I saw that day and every other day - those teachers are the front line.  They may not be sworn in but they take their job seriously. To TEACH and PROTECT.

The need to hug your children close when you hear of a mass shooting, a natural disaster or bomb threat will never go away. I know. My mom called me when she heard.  I just want you all to know, as a parent and a substitute I want nothing more than to send your child home to you everyday a little better and a little brighter than they were this morning. And I will do whatever it takes to make that happen. I Promise.

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