Tuesday, 18 December 2012

You Can't Put Price on a Teacher's Love - Margery Eagan, Boston Herald

We expect heroic tales from police, firefighters, EMTs — the highly trained first responders who run to the rescue when the rest of us run away.
We don’t expect as much from schoolteachers, particularly young women barely out of college. But as new details emerge from Newtown, Conn., we’re hearing more about the heroics of teachers who risked death to protect not their own children, but the children in their care, with no weapons and little chance they’d prevail.
Were you surprised?
“Not at all,” said longtime educator Eileen Nash yesterday, principal of both the Beethoven School, grades K-2, and the Ohrenberger, 3-8, in West Roxbury. “Parents have entrusted those kids to us, and it’s our first responsibility to take care of them.
“Any teacher,” Nash said, “would do anything for their kids.”
Yesterday in West Roxbury that meant reassuring many nervous children and parents. So Nash and her vice principal met children getting off buses in the morning rain. Teachers came in early to greet the first kids to class.
“Teachers want to say the right things,” Nash said. “Some kids may know (about Newtown) and some may not.” If a 5- or 6-year-old asked, and some did, “We never use the word gun or shooting,” she said.. “We talked about a tragedy in Connecticut and how it made lots of people feel sad. But that Connecticut is far away, that we will keep you safe here.”
She said this so calmly, with such soothing confidence and conviction, you could believe Eileen Nash: Nothing bad could ever befall the children of her schools.
If it worked for me, imagine how comforted any scared child would feel.
It has not been a great year for teachers. Gov. Chris Christie bashed them in New Jersey. New laws in Wisconsin and Michigan have teachers battling for benefits. Their unions nationwide are constantly criticized. I’m one of their constant critics.
But Newtown reminds us why it’s OK, even today, to entrust our kids to a teacher. On Friday, Victoria Soto, 27; Rachel D’Avino, 29; Laura Rousseau, 30; Anne Marie Murphy, 52; Principal Dawn Hochsprung, 47; and psychologist Mary Sherlach, 56, died trying to protect children in their care. Kaitlin Roig and her students survived, barricaded in a bathroom. But sure they’d be murdered too, she told them over and over anyway, it’s “gonna be OK.” And “show me your smile.” And, believing her words could be the last they’d ever hear, how very much she loved them.

Read the full story here.

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