In a week where parents mourn their children after yet another high school shooting, and NRA backed Republicans offer prayers – I thought of the incredible teachers who tried to actually do something – and save their students when the worst happened.
In 1996 Thomas Hamilton walked into Dunblane Primary School in Scotland, carrying pistols and two revolvers, and into the gym where a class of Year One pupils (age 5) were about to start a lesson. He opened fire killing sixteen children and their teacher, Gwen Mayor. Her body position showed she was trying to shield a group of children. Hamilton also shot teaching assistant Mary Blake in the head and both legs, but she still struggled to a store cupboard protecting several children in front of her.
2012 – the Sandy Hook Elementary School, when Adam Lanza walked in with a rifle, teacher Kaitlin Roig heard glass shatter and rushed her small charges into a bathroom, locking the door. ‘The children were so good. I said there was a bad guy out there and we had to wait for the good guys. One little boy whispered, “we’ll be all right, I know karate.”’ When the police arrived she refused to open the door until they slid their ID badges underneath. Meanwhile teacher Lauren Rousseau quickly tried to herd her class into a bathroom when Lanza entered her classroom and opened fire, killing them all. In another classroom, hearing the shots, Victoria Soto hid her class in a cupboard. As she was trying to lock the cupboard door, Lanza walked in. Victoria told him the children were in the gym. A few terrified children tried to run. Victoria threw herself in front of the fleeing children and was shot dead.
On Wednesday 14 2018, at Margary Stoneman Douglas School, in Parkland Florida, teacher Scott Beigel who could have hidden in safety, instead unlocked his classroom door to let in panicked students, running from Nikolas Cruz. He was shot before he could get back inside and relock the door. Student Kelsey Friend sad, ‘I am alive because of him.’ Aaron Feis a football coach threw himself in front of students, as Cruz sprayed bullets, and later died of his wounds.
President Trump later visited Florida to pay his respects. He has been grinning avidly and doing his trademark thumbs up.