Monday, October 3, 2016

Have you ever heard the name Ann Whitney? Until recently, I hadn’t either. On a visit to the Hamilton County courthouse to help my mom with a house deed issue, I noticed a monument on the courthouse lawn that paid homage to Miss Whitney. It read, ” In memory of Ann Whitney. Born in Massachusetts about 1835. Massacred by Comanche Indians July 9, 1867, while protecting her pupils.”
It also gave the interesting information that the “school was located 7 miles northeast of Hamilton on the Juan de la Garza Survey.”
I found this monument fascinating. Teachers and principals have been standing up for students since there have been schools. Educators were willing to pay the ultimate sacrifice for the safety of their students then, just as they are now. Teachers, principals, and school personnel do so without weapons, without body armor, and without self-defense training. If called upon, teachers and principals will place themselves between their students and harm.
Recently, my daughter’s school went into a lock-down. As a first grade teacher, she followed the district protocol and quietly read to her students, making sure that they stayed calm, all the while planning her move if danger appeared at her door. Thankfully, it was a false alarm, but it demonstrates that teachers in classrooms across our state are ready to defend the children of their communities.
And, who can forget the heroic efforts of Principal Dawn Hochsprung, of Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut? She confronted a shooter as he entered the school and alerted school personnel before losing her life in the line of duty. I was fortunate to pay my respects to her on behalf of NAESP and TEPSA. The outpouring of respect from this small community towards principal Hochsprung was touching. She’s another example of the selfless love for children that educators across the nation demonstrate on a daily basis.
Though teachers and principals don’t face down killers every day, they do visit homes in sometimes dangerous areas, they meet with parents who are dealing with broken marriages and students who are hurting, and they are ‘on duty’ in defense of children while at school or even when in public.
So, before we get too deep in the weeds of state-required testing, budget cuts, and the mundane issues that fill your day, and in memory of Miss Ann Whitney and in honor of teachers, principals, and all those who work in our schools, thank you for your service and sacrifice.
Let me know what you think.