Dec 18, 2012 Herm Card Uncategorized
I have always been proud to be a teacher, and I have always been proud of teachers. I have a button that says, “Teachers are my heroes.”
It takes courage to teach.
Teaching requires conviction. It requires self-confidence and a sense that one is doing the right thing in the right way for the right reasons. It requires people to do the right thing at the right time. It requires the resolve to stand up to the fact that we live in a society that is all too ready to assign blame to teachers when the artificial standards that society sets are not met. We are all too ready to declare that things need to be fixed, that we could do a better job, and that we could solve the problems of education.
And now we must mourn the loss of six of our colleagues who died doing not what teachers do, but doing what heroes do.
Alas, we have somewhat devalued the term “hero.” People are not heroes for doing the things they are expected to do. Heroic acts go beyond the ordinary. They go beyond the day-to-day expectations. They embody the greater actions of selfless response to situations that are often beyond the ability of people to prepare for or to comprehend.
I am intensely sad that it takes tragedy to enhance respect. It took the events of 9/11 to make us accord “first responders” the respect they had long ago earned but had not received. Now it will have taken the tragic event in Connecticut to do the same for teachers.
Teachers have always been first responders. Other than parents, they are the first to respond to the critical need to educate our children, to guide them and lead them, to point them in the right direction.
And in the Sandy Hook Elementary school, they were the first to respond to the violent assault on their school. It was an act beyond courage — it was the selfless response of people who care more about others than themselves. It was the response of people who, like parents, give no thought to personal safety when the safety of those they love is at risk. It was the response of people armed with nothing more than the need to protect helpless young people that led them to confront an armed maniac bare handed.
The true extent of their heroic actions will likely never be known. What is known is that they slowed the assault, impeded its progress, shielded and protected and comforted children and bought time for the “good guys” to arrive. Six paid for that time with their lives, and others inevitably would have.
And now we must understand that what was already a difficult job has now become more difficult because teaching will never again be the same. A sense of “what if” will infringe upon the day to day routine of education — the atmosphere, the energy, the very sense of what school is will change.
But teachers will not change. They will continue to do what they do — what they love to do, what they must do. They will show up every day and focus their incredible energy on the young people in front of them — to educate and guide and lead.
And we will all join them in praying that they will never again have to be heroes.
Herm Card is a frequent contributor to Eagle Newspapers. He lives in Syracuse and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.