Given the recent tragedy in Uvalde, Texas, it seems not only appropriate, but necessary, to forego most of the other regular segments in this Update to offer the following thoughts and reflections:
As we all endure the horrors of yet another school shooting, we are again left sickened and grief-stricken beyond words. The terror that that classroom of innocent, defenseless, beautiful 10- and 11-year olds must have experienced in their final moments on this earth is not only unspeakable, but one of the saddest, most painful things about the realities of life in this world any of us have ever been faced with.
The safety of our schools has always been sacrosanct in our nation, and to even have to consider the prospects of something so hideous happening at the local community schoolhouse, for most of us, never once crossed our minds when we were kids.
Though the traumatizing effect on all of us will be somewhat intangible and hard to measure (unless we’ve just become numb), it will nonetheless be hard to avoid. This is especially true of our young people. The effects potentially will be varied, deep and life-long: some will become increasingly cynical about life and the nature of the human condition, while others may actually grow deeper spiritually, guided by the verities of their faith. Most, however, will not know how to process this. Without guidance and intervention, they will be vulnerable to paralyzing levels of confusion and even despair.
In one of my former lives, I worked for 14½ years with traumatized children (and families), and heard from not a few kids how pronounced the darkness was in their own hearts as well as some of the evils they fantasized about enacting. In almost every other way, these were regular, loveable, delightful kids, but deep down inside, they were tormented. Finding someone they could talk to about their torment (and still feel loved and accepted after having done so) did offer them some relief.
So while it is human nature to deal with this stuff by not dealing with it, going on through life as if nothing happened, that is exactly what we can’t do. You don’t have to be a mental health worker to care. You don’t have to be a professional counselor to listen. And you don’t have to be a pastor to weep with those who weep and pray for those who need it – which at this point, it goes without saying, is pretty much all of us.
In these days of heaviness, it falls to all of us to become more human, and in doing so, more divine. There is a time to work, and then there is a time to lay aside the duties of the day, move in, and become the healing presence some of our students need. This is one of those times.
Mark Your Calendars
A Wyoming Seal of Biliteracy is being created for students proficient in two or more languages. An advisory committee of language educators will convene to recommend assessments and levels of proficiency on assessments that will enable students to earn a Seal of Biliteracy, including a seal with Advanced Distinction.
The WDE is collecting public input to be shared with the Seal of Biliteracy Advisory Committee, which will develop recommendations that will be forwarded to the State Superintendent of Public Instruction.