Tuesday, October 04, 2016

Guidance System

The name of the town: Pleasant View. It's in Tennessee. I am sure that there are abundant vistas to take in and enjoy in this town located conveniently between Nashville and Clarsville. And that's just fine, but I think that moving forward, the views will be much more pleasant because of Molly Hudgens.
Ms. Hudgens is a guidance counselor at Sycamore Middle School, and last Wednesday she emphatically lived up to her job title. One of her fourteen year old charges came to her and said that he was planning on shooting a number of teachers and a police officer. Unless she could talk him out of it.
Which is what she did. It took forty-five minutes, but when she was done, the student handed over the loaded semi-automatic handgun to her without a shot being fired. By anyone. The boy was arrested by a school security officer on charges of making threats and possessing a firearm. Again, let me state that Molly Hudgens was not armed. She was able to do her job and kept everyone safe without packing heat. She took the heat out of the situation. The SWAT team didn't have to intercede, and no blood was shed.
Sweat and tears, yes. Blood, no.
I understand how this tends to deflate the version of reality that includes "a good guy with a gun." In this case, a good woman with a heart and mind was able to handle the situation. How incredibly refreshing and affirming. How incredibly brave.
I can remember some years back being in a room with a recalcitrant fifth grader who, according to a variety of reports, was carrying a gun in his backpack. It felt like there was a mile between myself and this boy who might have decided to surrender to the impulses of his neighborhood and take matters of life and death on his own terms. I took my time approaching this kid, because as much as I wanted to believe that I was in no danger, I knew I could be in a heartbeat. When at last I made it across the room and talked him out of his backpack, I was relieved to find a somewhat realistic looking pellet gun that wasn't loaded. It had the physical and psychological weight of a real gun, but the reality that had me dealing with scare and not a true threat was a relief I will never forget.
I like to think of myself as brave for that moment, but I was doing one of my least favorite but most important parts of my job. I suspect that Molly Hudgens would rather talk about the kids she managed to get out of trouble with their grades and on to a college of their choice. Maybe one of them will choose a career in education. Keeping kids safe, from each other and themselves.

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