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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Pour Your Heart Out: After That Day

If you have never visited Pour Your Heart Out before, see THIS post for more information- but it's personal- it's what YOU think is pouring your heart out. Please grab the PYHO button or link back in your post if you are participating.

Again, just a brief reminder that everyone linking is pouring their hearts out and we should all be respectful in our comments. ;)

Also, the linky is what you make of it- if you link up a Pour Your Heart Out post, please make an effort to visit some of the other linkers. And even if you don't link up, visit a link or two to find some new blogs to read! Tips to make the most of a linky.


April 20, 1999: Twelve years ago today, I was student teaching in a third grade classroom.  In a tiny little town that it took me about 30 minutes and 4 wrong turns to get to every weekday.  I don't think I could find the town today without a Garmin directing me there, let alone be able to find the small school.

I was weeks away from earning my teaching degree.  Feeling that I had chosen the right profession, that teaching was it for me.

And then we got the news.

A school shooting at Columbine.  Thirteen were killed and the two gunmen killed themselves.  Twenty-four more injured.

In a small town.  Whether it was the result of bullying or depression or the violent influence of society: the questions still haven't really been answered.

But, it happened.

Parents sent their children to school, thinking it was safe.  Teachers went to work, thinking it was safe.  And it wasn't safe.

A tragedy.  One that could happen anywhere.

The following week, my mentor teacher returned to the classroom as I was singing a multiplication facts song with the class and quietly locked and shut the door.  She waited until we finish singing the song and announced that we are going to have a special reading time.  Get your book and go sit in the reading area... an area sectioned off by bookshelves that isn't visible from the door or the windows.

I glanced out the windows at the high school across the street.  Beside the high school: a huge wooded area.  I could see police officers wearing body armor and helmets, carrying large guns, slowly making their way through these woods.

I tried not to give away what I saw, so as not to alarm the 3rd graders.

We crowded in the reading area, attempting to keep the kids quiet, not sure what was going on.

Later, we find out:  someone had threatened to make that school the next Columbine.  Threats had to be taken seriously.  Thankfully, it was an empty threat and no one was injured.

Columbine was not the first school shooting and it hasn't been the last.  But, it's the one that forever changed the way we think about school safety.

It burst our bubbles of thinking that schools were safe.

Sending our kids to school became something we had to think about.  Being a teacher no longer sounded like a safe choice.  Everything changed after that day.

Because if it could happen in Columbine, it could happen anywhere.

I wrote a different kind of post about Columbine last year: Hope Lost.

Take a moment to remember the families whose lives were forever changed 12 years ago today.



Blogger Sara said...

I was in my 1st year of college when that tragedy happened; it seemed to senseless and scary. I had never worried about anything in high school, and now they have metal decectors (sp?) and police officers- all necessary, all good things, but still, so sad.

April 20, 2011 at 7:06 AM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Oh, how I will never forget that day. I was a freshman in college and I couldn't believe it. I still have fears about sending my son to school and wether or not he'll be safe. Thank you for reminding us and always remembering!

April 20, 2011 at 7:18 AM  
Blogger Oka said...

Although my fears of school safety started much sooner than Columbine, this event truly rocked our nation (and it should have).

April 20, 2011 at 7:35 AM  
Blogger Lisa @ Two Bears Farm said...

It must have really been a hard perspective to watch the events from a teaching profession. :-(

April 20, 2011 at 7:40 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I sat and watched thenews unfold and realized that life was forever changed for my children when it came to attending school. I cannot imagine what that would be like to have been employed in a school system.

April 20, 2011 at 7:44 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I was in 8th grade, and the week after the shooting 4 schools in our area got threats. The following year we got 6 security guards in our High School, two Medal detector wands, and mandatory Bag checks upon arrival at school every day. Everything changed overnight.

April 20, 2011 at 7:50 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

It was a tough day! I wanted all my students to be safe forever.

April 20, 2011 at 7:50 AM  
Blogger Colleen said...

What a terrible world we live in. I think you're right about Colombine, it carries a special weight in our hearts. I am so saddened to know these things happen.

April 20, 2011 at 7:53 AM  
Blogger Tara R. said...

I can't imagine having to experience that kind of fear for your students. Both of my kids are now out of high school, but I still worry for them.

April 20, 2011 at 7:57 AM  
Blogger Kmama said...

I was just thinking about Columbine yesterday, not even realizing today was the anniversary. Yesterday, the news was covering a 6 year old little boy in Texas who brought a gun to school. The gun fell from his pocket and went off, injuring two other students. Thank goodness everyone was okay, but geez!!

April 20, 2011 at 8:10 AM  
Blogger Natalie said...

That is so scary to think about. Then after that happened with how it was televised you had the copy cats out there. You hate to think that where you are sending your kid to learn is also a place where they can get hurt.

April 20, 2011 at 8:29 AM  
Blogger Truthful Mommy said...

Thanks for sharing. I think of Columbine occassionally when I drop my girl off at school. I thought of it this morning when I dropped her off. That unsafe feeling in the pit of my stomach. I pray for peace for the families of those who lost their lives on that day.

April 20, 2011 at 8:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have chills ... sad chills. :( How scary!

I was in high school when Columbine happened. A few months later, a new girl showed up in one of my classes and come to find out, she was from that high school and had experienced that awful tragedy. Her dad had family in our town in Ohio so they moved to get away from all of it. She could barely speak about it ... so awful!

Thanks for this post, Shell.

April 20, 2011 at 8:43 AM  
Blogger Heather said...

I remember the feeling teaching and sending kids to school after that. Even now so much later it affects the school day.
What a scary "lock down" experience for you with those kids.

April 20, 2011 at 8:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very scary! I always think it can't happen here. But the truth is that it really can happen anywhere. Sad to know our kids aren't safe in school

April 20, 2011 at 8:57 AM  
Blogger Jenn said...

I remember this like it was yesterday. It's so heartbreaking and scary. I'm glad your situation did not turn into a violent one. It's scary to think about sending our kids off to school daily without really having any guarantees ...

April 20, 2011 at 8:59 AM  
Anonymous Megan (Best of Fates) said...

That's such a terrifying memory. I'm so glad your school was safe.

April 20, 2011 at 9:03 AM  
Blogger m&msmommy said...

Wow, what a scary memory! I was in my senior year of high school and probably blissfully ignorant to the ramifications of what that fateful day at Columbine would hold from that day forward...but now as a parent, my heart literally aches every time I hear of a school shooting. You can just never assume that ONE time it won't be your kids school. SOOO scary! :(

April 20, 2011 at 9:27 AM  
Blogger Rebecca Dot Com said...

I'M GLAD your school was safe. We unfortunately in our local neighborhood a couple of years after columbine had a little girl who was 6 shot by a school mate boy that stole his parents gun and came to school with it. It's sad when something like that happens locally - and even harder I bet, when you are a teacher witnessing it.

April 20, 2011 at 9:29 AM  
Blogger The Riggs Family said...

Wow! 12 years ago today. I'm a teacher and there's nothing I fear more than hearing "Attendance Check" come over the loudspeaker...code for lock your doors, account for all your kids, call if any are missing, and try to stay calm.

April 20, 2011 at 9:42 AM  
Blogger christina said...

soooo scary. i cannot even fathom being a teacher and seeing that out my window a mere week after such an awful event! :( such a scary world we live in at times.

April 20, 2011 at 9:45 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

This hearts my heart. Such a tragic day. It did change everything about the way we think.

April 20, 2011 at 9:51 AM  
Blogger KLZ said...

I'm glad you were safe and I pray that everyone stays that way today too.

April 20, 2011 at 9:52 AM  
Blogger John said...

I can't imagine what it would have been like to be a teacher during all of this. I, personally, was in a flower shop, picking up a bouquet for a first date. The girl was going to be a teacher.

I also remember a kid who wore a trench coat every damn day choosing to wear something else the day after Columbine.

That day changed so much.

April 20, 2011 at 9:53 AM  
Blogger Katina said...

Thank you for reminding me about this. You are right, this could have happened anywhere. I remember watching it on TV and crying.

April 20, 2011 at 9:56 AM  
Blogger MommyLovesStilettos said...

So scary :( I can't even begin to imagine.

April 20, 2011 at 10:08 AM  
Blogger Evonne said...

Thank goodness those were empty threats at your school.

I had a few issues with school safety before Columbine, but it only escalated after that day.

April 20, 2011 at 10:08 AM  
Blogger Tiffany said...

wow! I'm sure that shook you to the core, the reality that it could happen anywhere.
Thankfully it was an empty threat.

April 20, 2011 at 10:20 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

An excellent post. It reminds us that we just never know what will happen when we get up in the morning. Let's hope that going forward, all our teachers and students can be safe!

I just stopped by from SITS to say hello. I hope you find time to return the visit!

April 20, 2011 at 10:33 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Shell, another great post from you.

My husband is currently on a sort of alert because of threats made at the high school in his jurisdiction. So scary!

April 20, 2011 at 10:51 AM  
Blogger Amanda @ It's Blogworthy said...

Yes, it can happen anywhere. All you need is ONE troubled child. Makes you wonder why this is happening more and more...are the kids not getting help they need? Rhetorical question but it's something to think about.

April 20, 2011 at 10:52 AM  
Blogger Natalie said...

Reading this gave me chills. Thank you so much for sharing your experience with us. I was only 12 when this tragedy took place, but I will forever remember that day and always keep the families in my thoughts and prayers.

April 20, 2011 at 11:00 AM  
Blogger Hutch said...

It's amazing how 1 word can take you back 12 years while bringing up such emotion. I can't even imagine going through a false alarm, especially as a new teacher!

April 20, 2011 at 11:14 AM  
Blogger mypixieblog said...

I can't believe it's already been 12 years since Columbine. You're absolutely right, Shell. Everything changed after that day. Thank god those were all empty threats at your school. What a scary thing to go through. XOXO

April 20, 2011 at 11:22 AM  
Blogger Heather H said...

How scary. I will never forget that day...I can't imagine how a teacher or parent felt. I'm so glad that that was empty & you are okay, Shell!

April 20, 2011 at 11:29 AM  
Blogger Kimberly said...

I can't believe it's already been 12 years. That event shook the world. Since then everything has changed. It definitely has left me uneasy about certain situations, not just school in particular. It's such a shame. My heart still breaks for the families that this effected.

April 20, 2011 at 11:31 AM  
Blogger {Stephanie}The Drama Mama said...

Today is definitely a different place than the world was back when we were kids. It's almost enough to want to keep your kids home with you all the time. The best you can do is pray for their safety, knowing every time they leave your arms, you can't protect them.

Anyone want to come live in the giant bubble I am building?

--The Drama Mama

April 20, 2011 at 11:41 AM  
Blogger The Mommyologist said...

Wow...I can't believe that was 12 years ago! I used to drive by Columbine all the time when I lived in the Denver area. It's in a suburb that looks like any other suburb in the US. You would never think of something like that happening there...just so sad!

April 20, 2011 at 11:52 AM  
Blogger PBJdreamer said...


Both of you acted with great calm and caring for the kids.

I feel sick about the Columbine incident even today.

Have you read the Wally Lamb book about a teacher that went through it?

Great Post

that is all

April 20, 2011 at 12:01 PM  
Blogger Macey said...

Wow, you guys were amazing, you handled it so well.
I still remember it and just reading this gives me the chills...not too long after that happened a kid in our state, a few towns over, did the same thing. It was like a living hell for those people. :(

April 20, 2011 at 12:33 PM  
Anonymous Paula @ Simply Sandwich said...

This is so frightening for any parent for sure! My daughter is part of a group in her high school called "Friends of Rachel". Rachel was the first student killed at Columbine and her family is dedicated to educating students and families on school violence prevention, etc.

Thanks for your post Shell!

April 20, 2011 at 12:40 PM  
Blogger Kir said...

I was a Resident Director living in a residence hall when this happened, on the front line like you were, concerned about the repercussions of what was a nightmare.

I never remember the date, but you brought back all the angst of that time, the uncertainty and the sorrow, the horrible losses we all experienced.

thanks for reminding me of the date, I'll keep all students in my prayers today.

April 20, 2011 at 12:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I cant even imagine how difficult it was to act normal and not alarm the students!

April 20, 2011 at 12:46 PM  
Blogger Courtney K. said...

I remember Columbine all too well. I sat transfixed by the television for DAYS. Such a terrible, terrible tragedy. I didn't realize it had been 12 years already.

April 20, 2011 at 12:56 PM  
Blogger Minivan Mama said...

It was one of those moments in time that changed our world forever. Great post. I wonder how I might have reacted if in your shoes on that day.

April 20, 2011 at 1:07 PM  
Blogger We 2 Bees said...

It did forever change the way we look at things. I live in Colorado and it shook my world. I appreciate you sharing this post!

April 20, 2011 at 1:10 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Prayers being said for everyone affected by this tragedy. Such a hard, sad day for the families.

April 20, 2011 at 1:11 PM  
Blogger Melanie said...

They are coming together today in honor of the victims here in Colorado - the families of the victims, past students, current students. I'm not too far from where the tragedy took place. Columbine did change the way we think, didn't it? We just have to be so careful nowadays and why it is so important to be proactive about stopping teasing, bullying and school violence.

April 20, 2011 at 1:12 PM  
Blogger Rebecca said...

Ever since that day, I'm sure that students have wondered what their teachers would do in that instance. I know that my students would ask occasionally and I'd always answer the same way, "I'd do whatever it takes to keep you safe." They knew what that meant...they knew how much I loved them.

I agree that it doesn't seem like the "safest" occupation anymore, but it's still one of the best.

Great post...thank you so much.

April 20, 2011 at 1:32 PM  
Blogger Liz said...

Oh, that gave me chills, Shell! And you were at the point where you were transitioning from a "child" into an "adult," ready to enter the real world. At that moment, you were all adult though, needing to think of the students' safety.

April 20, 2011 at 1:35 PM  
Blogger Jane Bitch said...

I remember like it was yesterday. I was full term, pregnant. It was my due date. I was home resting on the couch watching television. I watched the entire thing unfold. All my hormones raging. From the moment it broke on tv I sat there and bawled. I couldn't stop watching.

April 20, 2011 at 1:46 PM  
Blogger MommaKiss said...

I'll never forget that day. Ever. I was just out of college, working at my first real job.  When I heard the news, I just broke down. I had to leave work and I went home and could not turn off the news coverage. This was before twitter or facebook - all I could do was watch the news.  And as horrified as I was, I couldn't stop. I cried. I cried for the families of the kids murdered. I cried for the murderers.  Columbine changed the world, that's the truth. As a teacher, I can imagine the impact it's had on you

April 20, 2011 at 1:53 PM  
Blogger Amber said...

I hadn't even thought of the fact that today was the 12th Anniversary of Columbine. I honestly hadn't thought of too much. Thank you for reminding me.

I didn't hear about things until after the fact. I was working at an auto club at the time and was in the office for 10 hours that day. I do remember the shock I felt when I did find out, though. I had originally started college with the desire to teach. Even though I eventually went a different way, teaching was - and is - still in my blood.

So many things have changed for us in the last 12 years, so many things to make us more afraid of the world around us. I want my kids to be safe, but I hate the fact that closed schools and clear backpacks are a necessity now. I want my kids to have the kind of experience that I had as a kid. But they won't.

You've given me a lot to think about today, Shell. Thank you.

April 20, 2011 at 2:00 PM  
Blogger The Blonde Duck said...

I was in hs. I remember begging the journalism proffessor to do something in the next issue about it, and he would do nothing. I was so annoyed!

April 20, 2011 at 2:02 PM  
Blogger Jessica said...

I can't believe what our society is becoming where even school aren't safe anymore. I heard yesterday that a 6yo boy brought a gun to Kindergarten in Houston (I think). It is terrible. Schools should be a safe place.

April 20, 2011 at 2:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It was such a terrifying day, I cannot imagine the perspective from being a teacher. What a different take that must have been (and still be). Such a tragedy, and still so sad..

April 20, 2011 at 2:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm glad you wrote this. I was in college when it happened, and it changed the world. Now, as a mom, it terrifies me in a new way.

April 20, 2011 at 2:15 PM  
Blogger Theresa said...

Oh my, thank goodness we have been insulated from this Canada, so far. I really feel for all those families. Nobody should have to worry about their kids getting shot anywhere, least of all school.

April 20, 2011 at 2:24 PM  
Blogger Lady Mama said...

It's really sad that these events take away our feelings of safety, especially in the one place we hope our children are safe - in school.

April 20, 2011 at 2:38 PM  
Blogger Beth Zimmerman said...

Hard to believe it's been 12 years! Very heart touching post today, Shell! Thank you for sharing your heart!

April 20, 2011 at 3:54 PM  
Blogger EMM said...

Shell, having been a public school teacher myself, I know how insane it is to go through such drills. Fortunately for me, it was always just a drill and I'm sorry that you had to look out your window and see a SWAT team. I can't imagine having to keep a calm face for the children! This sort of thing makes me reconsider the home schooling option- seriously. I'd be insane if I heard that the Munchkin's school was in lock down because of a threat or potential intruder.

April 20, 2011 at 4:12 PM  
Blogger Liz Mays said...

Nothing will ever be the same, and there will never be a sense of security anymore. So sad.

April 20, 2011 at 4:15 PM  
Anonymous Create With Joy said...

What a moving post. Thanks Shell for sharing your heart on such an important issue and such a monumental event!


April 20, 2011 at 4:39 PM  
Blogger Alexandra said...

Have you read the books, written by the parents on this?

SO incredible.

April 20, 2011 at 4:53 PM  
Blogger Renee said...

It's events like this that frighten me. It's just a normal day until it's not. And it could happen anywhere.

It gave me chills to read this post and a good reminder on how quickly life can change.

April 20, 2011 at 5:26 PM  
Blogger Natalie said...

I remember watching the Columbine Tragedy unfold on tv. I was home with a brand new baby, hormones raging & shed so many tears for those parents and kids. I still can not wrap my head around how awful it was for them..

April 20, 2011 at 5:35 PM  
Anonymous MamaRobinJ said...

I remember that day so clearly. It was just so shocking. I can't imagine what it must have been like to have the experience you did, especially with younger children.

April 20, 2011 at 5:41 PM  
Blogger Sorta Southern Single Mom said...

That was an awful day. I, too, was in the classroom, in the middle of a long-term sub position. We also had to start practicing lock-down drills.

April 20, 2011 at 6:11 PM  
Blogger Adrienne said...

It can happen anywhere and it is sad

April 20, 2011 at 8:02 PM  
Blogger Beth said...

Goosebumps! I remember that day, as well. I'm at a loss for words.

April 20, 2011 at 8:14 PM  
Blogger Venassa said...

Wow so long ago. I was pretty young then but I remember hearing a lot about it. It's like it became popular after that for people to start making bomb and shooting threats in schools. It's so sad.

April 20, 2011 at 8:22 PM  
Blogger Babes Mami said...

I was 15 and remember that many many fake bomb threats started being called in and continued for months after. Chris lived in CO at the time and remembers it very well.

April 20, 2011 at 8:51 PM  
Blogger Julie said...

I cannot believe its been 12 years. My sister goes to college in Greeley, CO, which isn't far and she returns each year that she's there for the memorial. She says its very moving and makes you feel like you were a part of it.

April 20, 2011 at 10:45 PM  
Blogger Helene said...

Oh wow, how scary!!! Esp with it being the week AFTER Columbine!

It's so hard to believe it's been 12 years...I remember exactly where I was when I heard what had happened.

Just last month, there was a fatal shooting at an elementary school about an hour from here. It really reminds you how fragile life is and that it only takes a minute for your life to change drastically.

April 20, 2011 at 10:48 PM  
Blogger Sandra said...

Not sure if you've read the book "The Hour I First Believed" by Wally Lamb, but it captures the Columbine shootings and the aftermath so vividly. It's poignant.
I can't believe you experienced the same fear that those people in that Columbine high school did. Shell, I'm so sorry. That's horrible. Words can't convey enough...

April 21, 2011 at 12:31 AM  
Blogger Cyndy Bush said...

Wow, this gave me a chill.
SO well written. That must have been terrifying.

April 21, 2011 at 2:54 AM  
Blogger katsidhe said...

It was amazing how one day changed school from a safety zone into one where people could be killed.

That's horrible that an event could have occurred so close to you.

Beautifully written, girlfriend.

April 21, 2011 at 5:59 PM  
Anonymous Craptastic Mommy - Sh!t in the Bathtub said...

I too remember that day very clearly. It hit especially close to home since my school was locked down years early after a woman walked into another local school and shot children. She killed herself later. Your post was wonderfully written.
Thank you for reminding us to remember.

April 21, 2011 at 7:59 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I think people forget. I know I have, I worry about bullying or her following behind. But I forgot to worry about her being shot. It takes my breathe away. Thank you for reminding us about safety.

April 22, 2011 at 5:22 AM  
Blogger the honest blogger. said...

great post -- wish all teachers thought like you, because not a lot of them do. i witnessed people being bulied for years throughout high school, while the administration did nothing about it.

April 22, 2011 at 6:53 AM  
Blogger Julie said...

I was a high school teacher on the day of the Columbine shootings.

Actually in classrooms with kids the same age as those boys, those victims.

I will never forget it and will always raise my children to be tolerant and loving toward others...even those who are different.

Especially those who are different.

But even then we just don't know...
I suppose this is part of the beauty and tragedy of life: The unexpected.

Here's to unexpected JOYS instead of tragedies.

April 22, 2011 at 2:20 PM  
Blogger Katie Hurley, LCSW said...

I was working a a residential treatment facility outside of Philly then. I've since worked in schools before settling into private practice. Sending kids to school will never be taken for granted again. A couple of preschools out here have been attacked since I've lived here. On some level, no matter their age, dropping them off for the day is terrifying. Truly, our society needs to change. Well written, Shell. Sorry I'm just playing catch up for the week...

April 23, 2011 at 1:03 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I had friends that were in the school that day. I lived close to Columbine at the time and have heard some of the stories first hand. It was devastating.

April 24, 2011 at 12:58 AM  

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