We're Just Hoping All These Active Shooter Drills Don't Become Reality in Our Schools

Feb 28, 2018 12:00:00 AM


The glue gun was heating up in the corner to affix the last popsicle stick on the fifth grader’s biomimicry project. “Bio” means life and “mimicry” means imitate so students were creating inventions that copied nature’s wisdom. The kids had invented glasses that used echolocation, a green school with a roof garden and shoes that heated or warmed one’s feet based on the principal of thermoregulation. Tiny fingers had stuffed clay into the innersoles of the paper shoes to give the prototype the right look and feel and the whole group had added wooden slats on the roof of the school. When the students needed hot glue, I would carefully plop a dot where they pointed, because the glue gun was too dangerous for their delicate skin.

Lockdown! Lockdown! Lockdown!

I unplugged the glue gun, turned off the lights and closed the door, getting all students to huddle in the far corner, away from windows, behind a cabinet. Mark, an antsy kid, always has a hard time controlling his giggles during these drills. “Come on! This is serious!” said Amy, nudging him with her elbow. “We cannot talk or make one noise.” Maybe Amy met the phantom shooter in a nightmare, I wondered. Teachers like me, everywhere across the nation, are huddled in corners, hoping that they never have to use what we are practicing in this drill. [pullquote position="right"]We never want to meet the phantom shooter we have each created in our minds, but we know that he can be real.[/pullquote] We think about him, clench our teeth and draw closer to the kids we know and love. One day, perhaps, we would love to hear about their weddings, a new job or a sport’s success. Most of all, we don’t want them to be shot dead in school. We don’t want their blood to flow in the very hallways that cradle their future. And, we don’t want to take a bullet for them because, we know we would do it. President Donald Trump says that he wants our schools to become “ hardened targets” with gun-toting teachers sprinkled throughout the campus. Teachers who would be given “a little bit of a bonus,” to turn themselves into an armed militia of teacher warriors, ready to shoot up assailants. I’m thinking that our president doesn’t understand what kind of warriors we are. We are warriors for justice, messengers from the future who guide, encourage and listen. We are protectors, yes, but from bullies, bad self-esteem and shriveled dreams. And to help our students learn to be brave each morning, we slip on our courage with our sturdy shoes, facing the phantom shooter in the morning, shooing him away from our important learning. So now, we need our lawmakers to be brave too. We need them to ban the assault weapons that hurt our kids, slicing through selfishness and fear. The kids are waiting, huddled in the corner for you to make things right. On our end, we want get back to guns that are filled with melting glue, not bullets.

Maryann Woods-Murphy

Maryann Woods-Murphy is a Gifted and Talented specialist in New Jersey and has been teaching for 38 years. She is also the 2010 New Jersey Teacher of the Year, the winner of the Martin Luther King Birthday Celebration Award, a 2011-2012 Washington Teaching Ambassador Fellow, an America Achieves Fellow (2011-2015), a member of both the Board of Directors of the National Education Association Foundation and the Northeast Conference on the Teaching of Foreign Languages. Woods-Murphy earned her Ed.D. in Teacher Leadership at Walden University in 2016 with a study on the way New Jersey teachers improve schools. She has co-chaired Teens Talk about Racism for 13 years with retired science teacher, Theadora Lacey. In her free time, she writes, travels and spends time with family, especially her two granddaughters, Olvyia and Victorya.

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