With all my concern this past week over the relative health of my family and the prospect of spending another week or two sorting out my emotions regarding loss, I may have callously overlooked those who are sharing my feelings. Like the family of Michael Landsberry, the middle school math teacher who was shot and killed in Sparks, Nevada. Mister Landsberry was trying to intervene when a student with a gun began firing at his classmates just after the seven AM bell. Accounts of how "Mister L" used himself as human shield, protecting the seventh and eighth graders from further harm as police rushed to the scene. Two boys suffered gunshot wounds to the shoulder and the abdomen, but were expected to survive. Not the shooter, who took his own life before he was able to be taken into custody. Not Landsberry. He gave his life in the line of duty. Being a teacher shouldn't be that hard.
It continues to confound me how anyone who signed up to teach kids the quadratic formula should be asked to put their lives on the line the was Mister Landsberry did. The way Victoria Soto did. The way Dave Sanders did. The way too many educators have come to tragic ends over the past twenty years. It makes too much sad sense that a teacher, who has already put themselves in a situation that will bring them rewards other than riches, would be the sort of person to try and protect their young charges from harm, even if that harm is directed by one of their own.
I like to kid myself sometimes, imagining that all the stress and violence in my urban life gets channeled pretty cleanly and directly. Even if it is misdirected and has its own evil effects, the shootings that take place in Oakland are primarily out of school. So much attention is given to security and safety, it would seem unlikely that the kind of outbursts that we see in those suburban schools would be as likely here. Like I said, I kid myself.
I know the refrain all too well: "We never thought it would happen here." That is precisely what everyone believes until suddenly, they are forced to rethink.It is a shame that teachers would ever have to do that. No one should.