Hymn for the Hurting by Amanda Gordon via New York Times
Our Vocation, Our Family, and the Turquoise Necklace
I admit and recognize that I have the greatest luck in being able to do what I do. I get to connect and work with folks that I probably would have never had the good fortune of knowing had it not been for my role with Trinity. On top of that, I also have the privilege of meeting and working with students of all ages throughout many districts. I find great humor and humbleness when they teach me a thing or two. I'm intrigued by learners on so many levels and I owe them much gratitude for often reassuring me that this profession is my calling.
And as much as I love working with students, I also love working with educators and leaders. It's this simple notion of knowing that together, as adults, we can make positive changes that can, in essence, have a greater impact on our education community. So when a colleague of mine and I were asked to provide a week-long Literacy Academy training for fourth-grade teachers at a regional education center right here in San Antonio, we were all in.
Our fully packed conference room was filled with teachers from districts within the San Antonio area and from surrounding small towns including Fredericksburg, Boerne, Castroville, New Braunfels, Poteet, Kerrville, Comfort, and Uvalde.
Now, many may think that working with a large group of educators from different districts for an entire week may be intimidating, but when you love doing what you do, it's actually exhilarating and refreshing. It is an honor to share an intellectual learning space with other adults who are completely invested in kids. These are the people I love to surround myself with.
Knowing that we were going to be together as a big family of educators for a week, it was only logical (and essential) to build on relationships. And we did. From day one, we were already shaking hands, giving hugs, laughing together, holding great conversations with one another, collaborating together, and filling the room with good vibes.
This group was SO. MUCH. FUN.
Video retrieved from personal Twitter feed @FrancesLGarcia
During one of our breaks, I noticed a teacher front and center still sitting at the table alone. She opted not to take her break and was playing catch up on her phone. I immediately headed in her direction and sat down with her just to keep her company. I couldn't help but admire her beautiful necklace. It was a layered necklace with three strands of turquoise beads. I shared with her that I absolutely loved her necklace and her fabulous last name (Garcia). She giggled and we chatted about Uvalde, small-town feels, teaching fourth grade, how she loved learning, and how she loved her students.
This was a common thread amongst the teachers in that entire room, and I loved it!
May 24, 2022-The Turquoise Necklace Resurfaced
Oftentimes, I stay connected with my education community (aka, my second family), whether it be in person, through social media, or via email. I always love to celebrate those in the education community when they are recognized, moving up, or have achieved some sort of accomplishment. When one of us shines, we all shine!
But this past Tuesday, two teachers were being highlighted for a reason that was completely unfathomable. I never thought that I'd be coming downstairs to hear the "Breaking News" of a school shooting down the road from us in Uvalde. I never thought that I would hear the number of students who perished in a school massacre be the second-highest in the nation. I never thought that I would, once again, see teachers lose their lives trying to save students. I never thought I'd see a picture of Mrs. Garcia with her turquoise necklace on social media, in newspapers, and in news media outlets.
I've come to learn that sometimes when something surreal happens in your life, you spend most of your time trying to make sense of it.
Other times you just cry.
Think Change. Lead Change.
There are three kinds of people in this world: people who make it happen, people who watch what happens, and people who wonder what happened.
The next day, I headed to H.E.B. to support their cause and overheard a customer in front of me share how a Sandy Hook mother was on GMA and claimed that "people will forget" tragic events such as these. She went on to say that "thoughts and prayers" would only go so far, and to put things quite simply- while everyone else gets to move on, those who lost their loved ones, those who survived, and those in the community will never forget and can only try to move on.
In reflecting on all of this, I began to think about my own son. I realized that when he was just in first grade, a massacre happened at Sandy Hook Elementary; when he was in middle school, another massacre occurred at Stoneman Douglas High School; and now that he's in high school, we have witnessed yet another massacre at Robb Elementary.
This means that at every milestone in my own son's educational career, a massacre has occurred at a school in this nation with one in our very own backyard. I can, as a mother and educator, stay complacent and forget, or I can do something for the greater good.
I choose to do the latter.
As Amanda Gorman tweeted,
And while the debate of whether this is a time for politics or whether political agendas should be addressed, my response to this is simple- it has nothing to do with politics, it's 100% personal.
So whenever you're ready and you're looking for some ways in which you can help make change for the greater good, here are some ways you can have a positive impact on Uvalde and our education community.
How you can help
How you can make change
Contact your representatives and tell them you want safer schools for you and your students by enacting common-sense laws and red flags with regard to gun safety. https://www.texastribune.org/directory/ https://wrm.capitol.texas.gov/home https://www.usa.gov/elected-officials Join supportive causes to make change happen! March for our Lives (national march to be held on June 11!) Sandy Hook Promise Get out there and vote. Don't forget to take a friend with you to vote as well! Vote (information by each state)
How you can become more knowledgeable about gun violence
Learn about the statistics https://apps.texastribune.org/features/2019/texas-10-years-of-mass-shootings-timeline/
https://www.npr.org/2022/05/27/1101774780/gun-control-debate-statistics https://giffords.org/lawcenter/gun-violence-statistics/ Learn about gun laws and laws within your state https://www.bradyunited.org/ https://www.gunstocarry.com/gun-laws-state/ (by state) https://giffords.org/lawcenter/gun-laws/browse-state-gun-laws/ (by state) Learn about the gun bills that are being stalled https://thehill.com/news/house/3501301-here-are-the-gun-bills-stalled-in-congress/ Learn about H.R.8 and H.R.1446 bills https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2022/05/25/gun-control-legislation-senate-votes/9924328002/ https://www.congress.gov/bill/117th-congress/house-bill/8 https://www.congress.gov/bill/117th-congress/house-bill/1446/all-info See roll call by representatives on the H.R.8 Bill https://clerk.house.gov/Votes/202175 See roll call by representatives on the H.R. 1446 Bill https://clerk.house.gov/Votes/202177 See what's been passed in Texas by Governor Abbot https://gov.texas.gov/news/post/governor-abbott-signs-second-amendment-legislation-into-law-2021%22 See who can own a gun in Texas https://giffords.org/lawcenter/state-laws/minimum-age-to-purchase-possess-in-texas/ See what others have to say about the age requirement in Texas https://www.texastribune.org/2022/05/26/gun-buying-age-texas-handguns-rifles-uvalde/
See NEA's response to gun violence
Final Thoughts, a Turquoise Bracelet, and Hope
I know that our vocation is one that is often associated with servitude. We, as teachers and leaders, signed up for a profession where we give of ourselves to help others endlessly. It's the job and we are pretty damn good at it.
And while our field has always had its fair share of challenges, these last two years have definitely been trying. What happened this week may have even been a breaking point for many. Despite these challenges, I want you to remember this...
Know that you're still making a difference. We need you!
Know that you are seen and that you matter.
Know that we will always be better together.
Know that we can make a change.
Know that you're never alone.
I think of Irma Garcia and her turquoise necklace a lot these days. I even brought myself to go to a jewelry store in search of a turquoise bracelet made with twenty-one beads. When asked if there was a specific reason why I was looking for this particular type of bracelet, all I could respond with was, "This one hits home."
I walked out remembering what a friend had shared with me once when I told her that turquoise was part of our color scheme for Trinity's logo. She shared that turquoise represented wisdom, peace, protection, and hope.
I still believe in that, now more than ever.
Sending you lots of hugs, peace, and hope,
Trinity Elite Education & Co. is committed to supporting the Uvalde community during these times. Asides from current efforts and donations, we are currently working on how to best support our Uvalde education community once again in the fall.
If you would like to donate to Irma Garcia's GoFundMe page, please visit the link below: