Teacher: I’m not prepared to handle an active shooter

The thought hounding me as I leave the meeting: I’m not prepared.


It just got real.

After leaving a high-school staff meeting, I am shocked at the paradigm shift regarding teachers’ responsibilities, but I am also shocked by what appears to be — “This is our new reality, so roll with it” — directed at me. Us.

I just want to say: “Stop one moment, let me understand. Are you saying what I think you’re saying? Are you implying, no stating, that I need to prepare to take on an active shooter and defend my life as well as my 30-plus students in my class? But wait, just one second, sir, I don’t mean to be rude. But, but, but, I‘m not trained!”

This imaginary conversation, of course, is taking place in my head, because I would not dare stop the presentation and suggest that the high danger, unknown variables, my low preparation for violence, my lack of physicality, and even my fragile mental state ( I’m a straight-up academic) prepares me in no way to be Rambo-esque and heroic. On the contrary, I am used to being saved by the hero. I am the beautiful damsel in distress. Hello!

The auditorium is quiet. Teachers are listening, and the “Active Trainer” video being shown from YouTube is scary enough that I close my eyes. Because what’s being portrayed is not a movie but a realistic depiction of an active shooting. Look, I read books, paint and listen to Christian and soft jazz music. I teach young people how to interpret and process information. My students are pummeled to discuss and collaborate with their peers on diverse texts, philosophical ideals and argumentative claims. I shape my young people for the world outside where I hope they can be committed, productive citizens who are: literate and competent speakers and writers; able to decipher diverse and dense text; and solve problems. I don’t know if I am trained to teach them how to survive an attack because I am not sure I know how to survive an active shooter myself.

Sign up for The Palm Beach Post FREE weekly Opinion newsletter: Text Opinion to 444999

The thought hounding me as I leave the meeting: I’m not prepared. I need more training. I need interactive training; scenarios to expose me to a rehearsed violence because I don’t even know how a real gun sounds. (Every time the AK-whatever rifle fires in the video, I flinch at its ferocity, punctuated sounds that repetitively punch my ears). The tall, muscular officer states, pointedly, “We are putting a lot on you. You are very important. ” Hell yeah, I retort silently, always have been, always will be. He continues, “If you can get to safety, take as many kids as you can.”

A cold chill settled on my shoulders as I walk to my car; every step in my summery high heels appears to thud a clunkety-clunk-clunk in unison with my heart. I don’t know which sound is which.

All I do know is, I need more training.

It just got real.

EDWENA TIMPSON, PALM BEACH GARDENS

Editor’s note: Timpson is an English teacher at Palm Beach Central High School in Wellington.



Next Up in Opinion

Opinion: Ari Fleischer asks if we’re being fair to Brett Kavanaugh

Ari Fleischer wants to know if we’re being fair. “How much in society should any of us be held liable today when we’ve lived a good life, an upstanding life by all accounts, and then something that maybe is an arguable issue, took place in high school? Should that deny us chances later in life?” Fleischer, a former spokesman...
Opinion: Fear-based parenting

Police came to Kim Brooks’ parents’ door in suburban Richmond, Virginia, demanding that her mother say where her daughter was or be arrested for obstructing justice. So began a Kafkaesque two-year ordeal that plunged Brooks into reflections about current parenting practices. It also produced a book, “Small Animals: Parenthood in the...
Letters: It’s McKinlay who needs detention

It’s McKinlay who needs detention After reading Palm Beach County Mayor Melissa McKinlay’s reaction to her daughter being pulled out of class for a dress code violation and put into detention, it strikes me the mayor deserves detention, too. The mayor’s reluctance to disclose whether it was her daughter’s first offense suggests...
POINT OF VIEW: Jupiter should allow new assisted living facility

I was taken aback by the quote in The Palm Beach Post article — “A $75 million Jupiter medical complex sits empty. Why?,” (Aug. 31) — from longtime Jupiter Town Council member Jim Kuretski. He called it “unacceptable” that a request is going to be made to eliminate the prior agreement from the Institute for Healthy...
Editorial cartoon
Editorial cartoon

CARTOON VIEW LEE JUDGE
More Stories