I'm A Student-Teacher At Townville Elementary, And My Heart Aches

No child should go to school wondering if they are going to be safe.

This morning, I didn’t wake up at 6:45 in the morning, put on a dress, fix my hair, put on make up, and slide on my Jack Rodgers. This morning, I pressed snooze a few too many times. This morning, I didn’t excitedly wait until 1:45, the time my last class ends so I could leave Clemson’s beautiful campus and go to work.

No, this morning, I woke up with teary eyes and a heavy heart.  Because this morning, I wouldn’t be going to Townville Elementary.

I’m the middle of just about nowhere, with land full of hay and a landscape backdrop of the Blueridge mountains lies a beautiful school named Townville Elementary. TES has around 280 students grades 4K-6th. A year ago, I was selected to be a GoalPOST instructor through Clemson, and I was placed at TES.  (GoalPOST stands for Goal-oriented Performance in Out of School Time.) Essentially, it is a vamped up after-school program at Title I elementary schools around the Anderson, South Carolina districts.

I am a 5th grade teacher for Townville and all I can say is this job (I like to refer to it as my vocation) is the most difficult, and yet the most rewarding.

My ministry is in the classroom, and I firmly believe in St. Teresa’s words, “Spread the Gospel daily, and when necessary, use words.”

Having to maintain a classroom full of 5th and 6th graders after their regular school day, have them finish all their homework, feed them, transition them to the bathroom, get them outside, then back inside for computer time, and have them silently read for twenty minutes before dismissing via buses all while staying in my line of vision is not easy. But I love every single second of it. And I know that my babies love me, too.

But today I didn’t get to go to Townville. Today, I didn’t get to see my babies faces light up when I walked through the door. Today, I didn’t get to help them with their homework or teach them a twenty minute lesson. Today, I didn’t get to LOVE on them.

No, today TES didn’t have school, and they won’t tomorrow, because of a senseless act of violence by a 14-year-old boy. I’m sure you have seen the news and know what tragedy I am referring too.

Within 30 minutes of the initial report, I received over 5 phone calls and numerous texts from loved ones reassuring my safety. I was safe, but my children and fellow staff were not, and that thought haunted me.

No child should go to school wondering if they are going to be safe.

No teacher should have to take a bullet for her students to ensure their safety.

No faculty member should have to make a 911 call stating that there is an active shooter on school grounds.

And absolutely no one, especially a kindergartner should witness, hear or be shot in the leg and die because of it.

Enough is enough.

Thank God for the safety procedures implemented and the fast acting first-responders. Things could have been much worse if everyone involved wasn’t prepared. Thank God for Mrs. Hollingsworth who quickly got all of the children to safety meanwhile being shot in the shoulder.

But most of all, thank God for Townville. My heart aches for my school, and my sweet children who I have the privilege of working with every week.

Yesterday, I attended the prayer service in Townville, and I was truly overwhelmed with the love and support of the little ole Townville community. I believe in the power of prayer, and I believe that God has full control over this situation.

Why I do not know why, and I do not understand, I know that Romans 8:28 tells us that in ALL things, God works together for the good of those who love Him.

I can say with absolute certainty that Townville is a community who loves the Lord, and I know He will bring restoration and peace to the community.

In the meantime, please keep everyone involved in your prayers.

I, along with my other fellow GoalPOST instructors will be attending a mandatory crisis debriefing on how to handle the aftermath of this devastation before returning to Townville. I am in awe of the support, resources, and connections Clemson has provided its GoalPOST instructors during this incident. (I truly go to the BEST school in the nation.)

I am truly very emotionally invested in Townville and with my students. They are my absolute pride and joy. Being their goalPOST instructor, I pray for guidance and wisdom in how to do my job as effectively as possible.

And please, please join me in praying for Jacob who was on life support and recently went to be with Jesus. He is no longer in pain, but may we as a community surround his family with all the overflowing love that only God can supply.

I want to leave you with this final thought… I am a teacher. I am a coach. I am a counselor. I am a social worker. I am a life protector. I am a server. I am a nurse. I am a mother. I am a sister. I am a feeder. I am a lover. I am a teacher. I may be in a profession that is constantly criticized, disrespected, unnoticed and makes virtually no money, but I am in this profession to show children that they, too, are worth more than diamonds and rubies, and they, too, can change the world.

Yes, a teacher teaches math and the ABC’s, but most importantly, a teacher keeps her children safe and she LOVES them unconditionally. A teacher ALWAYS puts his/her children before his or herself, which is shown through the selfless act of Mrs. Hollingsworth. A teacher is so much more than a teacher.

Please continue to be in prayer for Townville with me.


Miss Douglas

This post originally appeared on lindseyelizabethblog.wordpress.com on Sept. 30, 2016.