Lauren Lansford was published in edition seven of The Mark with her poem, "School Supplies." When I first read the poem, I immediately connected it to the countless lives of children taken by gun violence in schools. Though that may not have been her intention with this piece, I think it is important that we use this poem as a jumping off point to start a discussion about senseless gun violence in America.
I gave them patience, permission
beveled rose erasers:
slippers for our ballet
hallway high-fives, umbrellas
in the rain,
and advice I could not keep.
I gave them myself.
I gave them time,
my proof of love.
I held their mothers at graduation, and
At their funeral, I gave them flowers.
Q: "School Supplies" is a poem that can speak about gun violence in schools. As a teacher, how do you view the alarming rate at which mass shootings are happening in schools?
A: Honestly, gun violence in schools isn't what I fear most. I've taught middle and high school for six years and have seen nine students pass—none to a mass shooting. While I have a personal connection to the tragedy in Santa Fe, Texas, I want gun violence outside of schools to become unacceptable before we even begin to discuss what's happening in schools. The way we normalize guns has to end. As a teacher, I am incredibly fatigued by re-traumatizing training we put ourselves and students through: multiple lock down drills, "stop the bleed" training, and other kinds of active shooter workshops are not only disgusting, but completely senseless when the conversation should be about how we can decrease violence overall in our students' lives.
Q: What do you think we can do to better protect students?
A: To protect students, teachers need to do two things: honor them and respect them. To do that, we must first honor and respect ourselves, but without compromise every single teacher must lead with love. That just doesn't happen. We make these students angry; we make them miserable. We must lead more compassionate lives so this world can change.