While families in Roswell, New Mexico try to make sense of the shooting at the Berrendo Middle School on Tuesday, a hero has emerged from the chaos. Social studies teacher John Masterson is credited with disarming the 12-year-old shooter, putting his own life at risk to save countless children.
According to reports, Masterson actually walked right up to the armed assailant and calmly told him to put the gun down.
Brave. Incredible even -- that he did it, and that it worked.
But is it really that surprising? That a teacher would be the hero?
Any time you get a bunch of parents of kids of a certain age together, the topic will undoubtedly turn to school and then to teachers. Complaints will be made.
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"I got another letter home asking me to send in more glue sticks. Is there a glue stick monster in that classroom? Does this teacher think I'm made of money?"
"Uuuugh, did Mrs. Jones always assign things at the last minute to your kids? As if I didn't have enough to do on a Tuesday night, I had to suddenly run out and buy oak tag for a project. Couldn't she have told us this last WEEK?"
And on and on.
Teacher salaries. Teacher vacations. Homework.
It all gets hashed out in lengthy bitchfests by parents. I'll admit I've done it a time or two myself. Nobody's perfect.
But then incidents like this crop up. Like Sandy Hook. Like Virginia Tech. Like Chardon.
Again and again and again there are shootings at schools, shootings where teachers put themselves in the line of fire to protect other people's children. And again we are reminded that for all that there is to complain about, there is so much more to be grateful for.
For people who love our kids, even though they didn't come from them, even though, let's face it, sometimes our kids are kind of smelly and bratty.
For people who make our kids fall in love with Ramona Quimby and American history.
For people who dole out hugs ... and discipline.
For people who say "good job" and "OK, let's try that again."
For people who inspire.
For people who nurture.
For people who protect.
For people who understand that our children aren't just our future, they are our greatest treasure, a treasure we share with them each day.
John Masterson is a man who understands that the parents of Roswell gave him their treasures to inspire, to nurture, to protect. And he did it.
But he's not the only one.
And so I ask ... the next time you are tempted to kvetch about that glue monster or the oak tag, think of John Masterson.
There are thousands just like him. And to all of them, I say "thank you."
What do YOU want to say to teachers like him?
Image via KOMUNews/Flickr