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Teachers, Administrators in Newtown Acted Heroically But That's No Surprise

Extraordinary bravery is ordinary for teachers.

Like the rest of the nation, I was shocked and saddened by the horrific events in Newtown that took the lives of 20 innocent children. 

What did not surprise me were the actions of the teachers and school personnel who died trying to protect them. We have all heard the stories by now — the principal and school psychologist running into gunfire in an effort to disarm the lunatic who invaded their school, the teachers who died protecting their students, and the students who did not die because of the quick thinking and bravery of their teachers.  

Of all the adjective others would use to describe me, brave is not on the list. However, as a teacher, I am certain I would have done the same as the teachers did in Newtown. I’m not saying this because there is anything special about me, quite the contrary.

While there is training on lock-down procedures for various threats, there is certainly no in-service training on what to do if you come face-to-face with a gun-wielding mass murderer. But if evil presented itself on his or her watch as it did at Sandy Hook Elementary School, your child’s teacher — who does funny voices at storytime, sings songs about fractions and patiently listens to schoolyard injustices — will not hesitate to try whatever is necessary to take them down.

As my friend, former colleague, and first-grade teacher Barb Johnson, who teaches at Poe Elementary School in Arlington Heights, explains so eloquently on her Facebook page:

Heart break ... shock ... numbness; I felt all of these emotions upon hearing of the shootings at Sandy Hook. I am now feeling pride upon hearing of the stories slowly emerging from the teachers of the school. Pride in how the teachers handled the situation, pride in how they calmly talked to their students. Pride in how many lives were saved because of bravery and love for their students. I have always been proud to be a teacher, but never more than today. I am a first grade teacher and would have done the exact same thing Victoria Soto did. Victoria, you are my hero. Not only for myself, but for all teachers around the world. You hid your first graders in the closets and bathroom and took the bullet for your class to keep them safe. ... I have not spoken to a teacher since this horrible tragedy that would not have done the same. Thank you teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary for showing the world who we really are and that we would die for our students if we had to. Maybe all the teacher-bashing by newspapers and journalists will end when they stop and ask themselves the question ... ’Would I take a bullet for my job?’

I spent a portion of my day on Monday talking with teachers at the elementary school near my house and as expected, they are shaken to the core. They realize Sandy Hook Elementary School could have been their school and the teachers whose lives were taken could very well have been their own. I’m not sure what I expected to see at this school, but by and large, it was business as usual. As fourth-grade teacher Dahlia Cherney told me, “The kids just want normalcy, and because of our students, the teachers were able to cope better.” 

Another teacher mentioned all the emails she received from parents expressing their appreciation for her dedication. It’s a start. 

cynthia December 22, 2012 at 03:42 PM
While some teachers were heros the nurse and the secretary, who were in the front office, hid in the closet and heard the children and teachers screaming and chose to do nothing. Please lets not go there. I totally agree with Dan. The school issue is out of control in this country.
Debbie Mitchell December 22, 2012 at 04:26 PM
Dan, didn't your Mother teach you... If you have nothing nice to say then don't say anything at all! All you do on here is insult other people's point of view. It's a forum for opinion, stop being the voice of evil.
Debbie Mitchell December 22, 2012 at 04:40 PM
Cynthia, really? Why did you just go there ? Why would you write anything publicly about any one person in that school. It was a horrific scene, pure evil at work and you just said something negative about the school nurse and secretary. Not one of us knows, including myself, how we would have reacted. Please do not say anything like that or make any sort of judgements on them. Not everyone can be a Hero, but my point was not to debate the unions, I absolutely think unions should be abolished. I was only voicing my opinion on how I feel about teachers, not only what they did that day, but what most of them do for our children every day.
Debbie Mitchell December 22, 2012 at 04:42 PM
Well, DAN, at least we agree on one thing... That the teachers union protects and employs the lazy teachers while not, or under compensating, the good ones. I have always said that.
Debbie Mitchell December 22, 2012 at 05:16 PM
Ok Dan , so now you are insulting mothers... Mine to be exact. Yes, I will say it again. I think your insulting words are evil. Why do you hide behind a computer "voicing your opinion". Why not give your name. I have no problem standing behind my opinions nor my convictions. Put your name out there if you believe in what you are saying. Let us know who you are. I would just love to know who this "Dan" is who won't identify himself. How exactly have I "failed my mother?" Is this where you chose to go on the "patch?" Too bad
Debbie Mitchell December 22, 2012 at 06:16 PM
I am done commenting on Patch. I refuse to give Dan a platform to enable him to not only voice his opinion, but to begin every comment with a direct insult to someone on here. It is not his evil comments of today but look back at all his past posts. Everyone of them are laced with a derogatory comment, usually to the last person who posted a comment. He will continue but I am done allowing him to do so to me. Patch keep an eye on him. He is only on here for negative reasons
cynthia December 22, 2012 at 07:30 PM
To suggest that any tax payer "sit quite" while children's future and our countrys economy are destroyed is not what America is built upon. We are a country of independent thinking and demanding the best from our politicians and each other. Our education system has not produced anything even close to the best of education and I will not stop encouraging people to take a close look at the web site" Familt tax payer institute to determine the salaries of teachers and administrators in their area..then go to Illinois report card and find the results of the schools in your area..then google US Education results and then check your tax bill.. Then you tell me if our children are getting what they deserve. The statistics say NO
Si December 22, 2012 at 08:15 PM
Yes, they are Still being taught to write in cursive.
Mr mike December 22, 2012 at 08:52 PM
Dan, you sound familiar, and I like your opinion.
cynthia December 22, 2012 at 11:48 PM
Well most of our teachers have graduated at the bottom 20% of grade point average from college. Many many Superintendents don't have graduate degrees. Unlike Findland the best scoring education country in the world. Their teachers make 1/2 of what ours do and they hold masters degrees and are in the top 20% of grade point average. Huge difference. And the parents are not expected to do 1/2 of the teaching with home work. Seriously I cannot handle how really dumb so many teachers are. Not all but most.I mean as a door nail. Scary dumb.
cynthia December 22, 2012 at 11:54 PM
I can tell you kids are doing self teaching with work books while the teachers are on their computers connected to the internet and emails all day. Ask a few kids in 3-8 th grade what their day is like. Teachers use dvd's to read stories to the class and the kids are supposed to follow along. Well, if a child gets stuck on a word or concept too bad, the teacher won't be interupted while they shop on the internet. Teachers want all this respect? I understand and I want to give it to those who earn it. But I just don't get the opportunity very often.
Sully December 23, 2012 at 12:38 AM
So Dan, you mention Chicago public schools. Think for a minute here- what's the difference between a very big, urban city district and a smaller suburban district? Teachers are easy targets; addressing socioeconomic issues is complex and requires real problem-solving. "Pay teachers less because they are totally responsible for the recession, aren't they?" I'll ask again- what's the difference between huge city and small suburban? Any of you familiar with the Avoca School District, which comprises parts of Wilmette, Winnetka, and Glenview. Avoca District has all of two schools- an elementary and a middle school. Avoca serves children whose families could certainly be described as upper middle class. Avoca has some of the best test scores in the state annually. Let's see. We have a much smaller school district with a nice tax base and well-educated parents who care about the education their kids receive. They can often afford extra tutoring or additional educational support if the student needs it. They can afford medical care and can get their kids diagnosed if they have something like ADHD. And, they can afford the therapy and medication that helps their kids be successful. Heck, if you're really wealthy and on the North Shore, you can BUY diagnoses just so kids can have accommodations on college entrance exams. Luckily they can afford college. Can large inner city schools say the same about its students?
Si December 23, 2012 at 12:40 AM
Cynthia please reference where you are getting your facts?
Sully December 23, 2012 at 12:51 AM
A lot of generalizations there, Cynthia. Of course there are going to be bad teachers, just as there are bad plumbers, bad dentists, and bad salesmen. There are also bad conditions in which to work. I disagree that a majority of the teachers are what you describe. It's a disgrace that many teachers do graduate so low from college, but what that says is the really bright do not want to teach. It's a thankless job these days and dealing with children, not just academically, but personal as well when kids come from bad home conditions, and it's not easy. You all look at the schools issue with such simplicity. Stop that. I suggest that all of you District 46ers apply to be substitutes if the teachers go on strike. Get back to the rest of us when you see what it's really like (you need more than one day though to really get the full picture, but even a day can give you a glimpse).
Sully December 23, 2012 at 01:08 AM
Also Cynthia, in Finland (no -d), there is far far less poverty, health care is socialized, (horrors!) and education is well funded. Preschool is free and college is free. Even school lunches are free. Teachers do make less money (not by as much as a half of what Americans earn though), but considering what the government provides, it's easier to get by. It's a whole other world over there.
LOU PLATEK December 23, 2012 at 12:06 PM
This guy 'Dan' ...seems to peruse an argument about teachers, their right to organize, and how detrimental this is? To our kids in school. I believe...we are justified to seek teacher accountability in the face of higher wages...and subsequent taxes But Do not mix this subject with the insane loss of life in the Connecticut incident. ...Dan, you must learn that... Most people...can easily differentiate between ...grief and anger. Why.subjugate us? Our mission is to educate our kids .... Our President made coherent remarks about the loss of life... He did not ...raise questions on teachers or unions or bad teachers....nor high taxes The monetary concerns of everyone...takes the day off ... And Should NEVER be mixed into the tragic loss of life...in s school...in Connecticut. I think the mix up by 'Dan'....illustrates such...and schools kids don't need further confusion by adults who put the 2 issues together...in an unjustifiable manner. Thank You Louis Platek
cynthia December 23, 2012 at 01:44 PM
Louis,,NO ONE is mixing the loss of life with school issues. No one. Any information I have quoted is easily available at the WSJ, NYT or the Washington post. Use google scolar, Bing or other search engines. Subscribe to Illinois policy institute and other groups like school choice etc..The US spends 10 times more per student than Findland and the top 10 education countries..And our teachers make double in salary and benefits. More than 53% of teachers benefits are paid for direct from the tax payer. I suggest you take your time like I have to actually research the material before taking a romantic emotional position on the subject.
Si December 23, 2012 at 02:15 PM
"Not all but most.I mean as a door nail. Scary dumb." Cynthia, an opinion is fine, however, you and your friend Dan seem to use this forum as, not only a place for your voice but a venue for insults. Why is that? Why would you call teachers dumb? I just do not understand what is going on here. It is not an emotional, romantic position. Because of anger and hatred and insults to one another your society has lost all of its humanity. Be kind to one another, help eachother, think of others before yourself. You laugh at these thoughts, which is sad, because it is why this country is so far gone and you are not even aware of it. America has so much to offer yet they are lacking in decent human morals. God WILL Bless America... when they let him back in. Why is everyone so angry? I have never witnessed a country so full of hatred and anger, not only towards their own gov't (whom the majority elected) but towards eachother. I have lived in other countries and they just do not behave this way. You will call me romantic and emotional or you will call me dumb as a door nail. I can't change your opinion of people, however, sadly it is people with thoughts like yours as to why this country is acting out on its anger. Americans need to stop and think for a moment... Is this how they want to continue to behave and be perceived by the rest of the world? Not being romantic, emotional or dumb as a door nail, just being truthful.
McCloud December 23, 2012 at 03:59 PM
This tactic used by liberals who compare the "rest of the world" to America is an old one. It is used to capture imaginary images. Sort of like the man arrives with a briefcase and comes from afar is always hired as the expert consultant with all the answers.
cynthia December 23, 2012 at 04:16 PM
Si, who the heck are you to tell me about religion. You really want to go there? Bring it. I dare you to post your religious background. Truth is not HATE. I don't make up the facts..Our teachers are not the top of the education group..This is NOT HATE..its FACTS Since you think America is so far gone..Please get out..please go somewhere else.Cuba, Russia a place where only one opinion is allowed. Please go.
Si December 23, 2012 at 05:19 PM
Wow so angry. And now you are threatening me this is EXACTLY what I am talking about. Such anger. Be nice. Tis the season. Merry christmas Peace to you and your family.
Sully December 23, 2012 at 05:24 PM
Cynthia, did you read my post from last night regarding Finland (still with no -d)? I'm not sure where you are getting the ten times more and the double the salary figures, but yes, American teachers do make more- that is correct. However, teachers in Finland are much better compensated in other ways (such as health care). i suggest you take your time to not search for such simplicity and instead get a more broad and realistic version of what's really the causes for the poor educational outcomes in this country.
Sully December 23, 2012 at 05:33 PM
Freedom of speech, as long as you agree with it? You and McCloud and others who believe as you do cannot see the truth because you hear only what you want to hear and believe only what you want to believe. This country is not the only country in the world. Sorry to tell you that, but it's true. if one cannot admit there is a problem, than the problem will never get fixed. I guess we dumb liberals just want to improve the country for the better of all, while McCloud, et al, want to keep the status quo. Let the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. Who cares about the quality of life for anyone under the poverty level anyway?
LOU PLATEK December 23, 2012 at 09:35 PM
left-right winger? huh i'm a liberal?i know how-to 'focus' and in the NRA hierarchy... dan... seperate these issues in your head before you speak! keep 'em seperate as they really are Connecticut tradegy and/or the long standing teachers pay issues but how Dan combines them...must understand the state of his emotions that predicate his statements.. these ARE 2 .. individual .issues ...but Dan puts the issues together. Our country has a 'gun' problem...and defined by the Connecticut Tradegy seperately... several areas of the nation have many issues related to schools and teachers Louis Platek
cynthia December 23, 2012 at 09:51 PM
The current Education Czar uses the word "DUMMY" in education all the time. He said that Illinois was one of the worst "States" to "dummy" down scool achievement records. Guess who would have done that Dummy Down... Hey, Si go somke another joint while the rest of us think about ways for the US to improve our education levels from being the 17th and as low as 25 th in some subjects. You might as well roll a couple doobies with those kids of yours working at the gas station because they attended a public school in illinois. No thanks..my kids go to a private school and I am sick and tired of paying for the public broken school system producing kids who cannot read and write. 60 minutes did a big story on companies who have to teach these basic skills to young people comming out of high school.. There is a big diffrence between passion and anger.
Holytrip December 23, 2012 at 09:59 PM
Cynthia, For someone who is complaining about how 'dumb' teachers are, you really should learn how to spell. SCHOLAR not scolar. Dingbat.
hotgossip December 23, 2012 at 10:17 PM
Holy, also you forgot: school- not school. smoke- not somke. difference- not diffrence. Finland- not Findland, interrupted- not interupted. oh, but it's the teachers that are "dumb as a doornail". Cynthia: If you take up so much time looking up facts, why don't you take that time to check your grammar? Please apply for one of the substitute positions.
hotgossip December 23, 2012 at 10:17 PM
Oh... sorry, she wrote scool.
Si December 24, 2012 at 04:47 AM
Thank you hotgossip and holytrip for pointing out the obvious. This Cynthia is just nasty. She knows nothing about me, where I live or where my kids go to school. I thought this was a forum of opinion not hatred. I guess Cynthia did not understand that. I do live in the USA and I have recently become a citizen. I live in the suburbs and my children attended wonderful schools out here and are now finishing college with honors degrees. She should never judge what she does not know. Again, thank you ladies. You have restored my faith in kindness. ,
Sully December 24, 2012 at 02:26 PM
Cynthia is just a symptom of the problem. She sees the ice tip but not the bigger burg underneath.

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