Saturday, February 13, 2016

Lessons from Diane Sawyer's interview with Sue Klebold

Last night, my wife and I watched Diane Sawyer's interview with Sue Klebold, the mother of Dylan Klebold. For those of you that recognize the name but can't place why, Dyan was one of the "Columbine Shooters." We never intended to watch the interview. In fact, we had no idea it was even going to be on. But, being that we are parents, educators, and hobbyist sociologists (ok my wife has a minor.. I dabble), we couldn't stop ourselves from watching. 

It was clear from the first moment we laid eyes on this woman, that her life had been shattered. Just close your eyes, and think about what she has experienced. I'm sure you don't want to, because it was HER kid that did this. But that's the thing. You know how much you love your own kid or kids. How your heart just beats for them, and you do all that you think is right. But there is no manual. There is no way to know for sure, especially as we get caught up in the busy of our lives. It's overwhelming to sit in those feelings and imagine the life she has lived since that day. 

As the interview went on, there were so many emotions that we went through as we relived that day, but as parents, not as the college students we were back then. We send 4 kids to school each day. We pack their lunches, do hair, check for glasses, and load them up with, at times, just a quick "love you" & "see you after school." It's the same way many of the parents of the victims did that day, and the mornings before any of the countless school shootings since. We sat numb at the idea of that quick morning "goodbye" being the last. There is no fairness to any of it. To lose a child at a place that we trust to be safe is world shattering. It shouldn't be possible.

This feeling goes further for my wife, because she's married to a teacher. A high school teacher in a very large affluent school. I'm charged with not only educating my students in math, but also being on the front lines of student/teenage life. Any more, what is the job of a great educator? It can't be expected that we JUST teach kids content.. can it? With all that happens in the lives/development of teenagers, how can we not want our teachers to build relationships with the kids? At this point, it has to be a part of the job description. We have to expect our teachers to role models, and figures of support. NOT just content drivers, or standards enforcers. But how do we make that happen, encourage it, or even put that in a contract when all discussion is on budget cutting and the importance of STANDARDS!! 

It's crazy to know that before the shooting at Columbine, one teacher did contact Dylan's parents to let the know about a disturbing paper he had written. It was passed on to the counselor, and no further action was taken. Dylan and the second shooter, Eric, had also been arrested for felony theft. The judge gave little to no punishment. Both events were calls for help. But these signs were missed, and with the continuation of school shootings in our country, these signs occasionally still go missed. 

So, what is the takeaway from all of this? For my wife and I, it's that we can't get caught up in the bustle of our everyday to the point where we overlook the importance of special or significant little moments. That moment of "goodbye" needs to be special each day. Each hug, each worry, each bit of sadness needs to be taken with equal love & concern for each of our kiddos. But further than that, our concern and care needs to extend to the friends of our kids, to my students, to my wife's clients, and to the family we have all over. It's so easy to get caught up in money concerns, deadlines, house cleaning, laundry, or even political campaigns to the point where those little signs are written off. If anything, last night's interview was a reminder at just how important our roles as parents, teachers, and role models are each and everyday. We all have a responsibility at helping support the lives and success of each and every kid that crosses our paths. It's not that Dylan's parents failed him, it's that many of his calls for help went unnoticed by all the adults in his life. Sure his parents own a great deal of that burden, but I know that if he were one of my students, I would own the responsibility I had in overlooking the help he needed. It's my job to know my students, and to care for them beyond if they know how to use the quadratic formula or not. It's my responsibility to be great for my kids and my students. 

Now tell me what you think. Use the comments below to share your memories of that terrible day at Columbine. Did you watch Diane Sawyer's interview? Do you feel like your school is a safe place? What makes it a safe place?