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Nelba Marquez-Greene, mother of Sandy Hook victim wrote a letter to teachers
Nelba Marquez-Greene’s six-year-old daughter Ana Grace was one of 20 students shot and killed on December 14, 2012 at Sandy Hook elementary school in Newtown, CT. Her son was also in school on the day of the massacre, and survived.
Her letter to teachers published this week on Education Week’s website is a gut-wrenching, heartfelt and powerful read.
As another school year begins and old routines settle back into place, I wanted to share my story in honor of the teachers everywhere who care for our children.
I lost my 6-year-old daughter Ana Grace on Dec. 14, 2012, in the rampage at Sandy Hook Elementary School. My son, who was in the building and heard the shooting, survived.
While waiting in the firehouse that day to hear the official news that our daughter was dead, my husband and I made promises to ourselves, to each other, and to our son. We promised to face the future with courage, faith, and love.
As teachers and school employees begin this new year, my wish for you is that same courage, faith, and love.
It takes guts to be a teacher. Six brave women gave their lives trying to protect their students at Sandy Hook. Other teachers were forced to run from the building, stepping over the bodies of their friends and colleagues, and they came right back to work.
When I asked my son’s teacher why she returned, she responded, “Because they are my kids. And my students need me now more than ever.” She sent daily updates on my son’s progress, from his behavior to what he’d eaten for lunch. And four months later, when my son finally smiled one day after school, I asked him about it. His response? “Mom. My teacher is so funny. I had an epic day.” While I pray you will never find yourself in the position of the teachers at Sandy Hook, your courage will support students like my son, who have lived through traumas no child should have to.
Your courage will support students who are left out and overlooked, like the isolated young man who killed my daughter. At some point he was a young, impressionable student, often sitting all alone at school. You will have kids facing long odds for whom your smile, your encouraging word, and your willingness to go the extra mile will provide the comfort and security they need to try again tomorrow.
When you Google “hero,” there should be a picture of a principal, a school lunch worker, a custodian, a reading specialist, a teacher, or a bus monitor. Real heroes don’t wear capes. They work in America’s schools.
Being courageous requires faith. It took faith to go back to work at Sandy Hook after the shooting. Nobody had the answers or knew what would come tomorrow, but they just kept going. Every opportunity you have to create welcoming environments in our schools where parents and students feel connected counts.
Have faith that your hard work is having a profound impact on your students. Of the 15,000 personal letters I received after the shooting, only one stays at my bedside. It’s from my high school English teacher, Robert Buckley.
But you can’t be courageous or step out on faith without a deep love for what you do.
Parents are sending their precious children to you this fall. Some will come fully prepared, and others not. They will come fed and with empty bellies. They will come from intact homes and fractured ones. Love them all.
When my son returned to school in January, I thought I was going to lose my mind. Imagine the difficulty in sending your surviving child into a classroom when you lost your baby in a school shooting. We sent him because we didn’t want him to be afraid.
We sent him because we wanted him to understand that while our lives would never be the same, our lives still needed to move forward.
According to the 2011-12 National Survey of Children’s Health, nearly half of America’s children will have suffered at least one childhood trauma before the age of 18. They need your love.
A few weeks before the shooting, Ana Grace and I shared a special morning. Lunches were packed and clothes were picked out the night before, so we had extra time to snuggle. And while I lay in bed with my beautiful caramel princess, she sensed that I was distracted and asked, “What’s the matter, Mom?” I remember saying to her, “Nothing, baby. It’s just work.” She looked at me for a very long time with a thoughtful stare, then she told me, “Don’t let them suck your fun circuits dry, Mom.”
As you begin this school year, remember Ana Grace. Walk with courage, with faith, and with love. And don’t let them suck your fun circuits dry.
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found on my facebook…. from 2009
wow. i’m saving this here so i can laugh about it and delete it from facebook.
25 random facts about me.
1. I will eat Oranges, but for some reason I just choose not to cause of the time in kindergarten when I ate them for a snack and my friend did that thing where they spin you around on the tire swing after its been wound up and I threw a lot them up. The ban on oranges also includes orange juice.
2. Despite the food, and all the people - I absolutely love being on airplanes.
3. Biggest 22 year old Jonas Brothers Fan
4. Ask me anything about Harry Potter and I will know my shit.
5. First concert I went to was U2.
6. My grandmothers name was Jemima. (its a common british name!)
6. My Mother wanted to call me Gemma when I was born, My Dad Jamie. He Won.
7. I have watched a Leafs game in both the Air Canada Centre & Maple Leaf Gardens.
8. The only thing I like olives in, is a martini. Otherwise they are f-ing gross.
9. I’m pretty sure that one day i’m going to date someone famous.
10.I do eveything slow and at my own pace. It frustrates everyone I know, I mean everyone - but I still get shit done.
11. I think Miley Cyrus should be condemned to a small island with the cast & creators of Lost - the show sucks.
12. I’m about the only person I know who doesn’t two & a half men funny.
13. A lot of people used to tell me I looked like that VJ Amanda from Much Music, I met her and she doesn’t look like me and is a bitch.
14. I once baby sat a kid who all in one night: locked himself in the bathroom with a supersoaker, then proceeded to soak me with it, and then tried to escape out of his bedroom window when I put him in timeout.
15. I wish that Jim from the Office was a real person, and my age. oh wow.
16. My own room is a disaster but because I have worked retail for so long, I have to rearrange things when I see them out of place in stores.
17. Perfect date: Late dinner, and late movie then drinks.
18. I can talk on and on to one person for hours but speaking to more than 15 at once scares the crap out of me. Public Speaking is not my thing.
19. I write poetry and letters to get over things.
20. I have visited all Canada’s major art galleries, and plan for all of the worlds by the time I die.
21. Favourite clothing - T-shirts
22. I have never once been on the Honour Roll.
23. My IQ is 129.
24. I cannot watch scary movies because of my extremely vivid imagination. I will scare the crap out of myself
25. I think that asking someone to pick their favourite movie/band is like asking them to pick their favourite child/parent
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When bands from Manchester (UK) call themselves “the next Oasis”
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