The First First Responders



Deborah Dunton, a member of the executive committee of Temple Sinai in Pittsburgh, PA, recently wrote an op-ed for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette about this month’s shootings in Newtown, CT. In “The First First Responders,” Dunton, a K-8 special education teacher, writes,

After the unspeakable horror that occurred in Newtown, Conn., a few days ago, we were reminded that the first first responders at schools are the administrators, paraprofessionals and teachers.

All at Sandy Hook Elementary School displayed courage. They did their jobs.

The teachers acted instinctively to shield, hide and ultimately to save most of their students, with the heartbreaking exception of 20. The bravery, compassion and love with which these teachers acted came from their hearts and souls. It emanated also from their dedication and commitment to the children and families with whom they live every day for 182 days of the year. These children became their kids, too.

Yet these same teachers are members of a profession that is increasingly being attacked for what we don’t do, for how much money we make, for how powerful some of our unions have come to be. After the dreadful tragedy in Newtown, it is time to reestablish our faith in our nation’s teachers.

We need to remind ourselves why teachers do what they do, how they care for our children, how they are co-guarantors, along with parents, of our future. Far beyond instruction, fidelity to curriculum, Common Core State Standards and the like are the daily challenges of teaching children who come to school with a limitless supply of problems and struggles.

It is true that we teach because we want children to learn, grow and succeed in this tough world. But there is so much more that we do.

Visit the Post-Gazette‘s website for the full piece.

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Kate Bigam

About Kate Bigam

Kate Bigam is the URJ's Social Media and Community Manager. Prior to this, she served as a Congregational Representative for the URJ's East District and at the Religious Action Center as Press Secretary and as an Eisendrath Legislative Assistant. Kate is a native of Cuyahoga Falls, OH, and currently resides in Red Bank, N.J.

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