I agree with Diane Ravitch who combines her intellect, her scholarship and her inspiring humanity in a blog today: "Today We Mourn."
I have been a life-long teacher, and yesterday's killing of children and teachers was a burden I wasn't prepared for.
Last night at dinner, the universe sent a very important gift my way. I was sitting at the bar with a friend eating and talking when a former student approached; we hugged, and then talked about those wonderful years she was in my class—among the classmates that still sit so fresh in my mind that it seems like yesterday.
During my time as a teacher, we experienced a student gunman on campus, a student of mine who walked stoically through a back entrance and bumped directly into me, saying, "How are you, Mr. Thomas?" He then stepped calmly by, and I backed quickly into my classroom and held the door, hoping that he would not come into the room filled with my students.
We all were very fortunate as he did enter his homeroom (the door windows were narrow and a student let him in because he recognized him), but no one was ever shot or hurt during the incident.
This brief event has little comparison to yesterday, but almost all teachers live and work with the realization of these moments, the weight daily of assuming responsibility for other people's children you serve, watch over, and love as if your own.
Mourn, Reflect, Act
As an English teacher, my response drifts toward words, so I recommend here some reading for today, as part of the mourning, as part of the reflecting, but also as a foundation upon which we act, we act in the name of peace, love, and human dignity.
"Life Is Precious—Or It's Not," Barbara Kingsolver, Small Wonder
"Somebody's Baby," Barbara Kingsolver, High Tide in Tucson
"Sound extreme? Don't kid yourself. Death is extreme, and the children are paying attention," Kingsolver, "Life Is Precious—Or It's Not"
"And Death Shall Have No Dominion," Dylan Thomas