In today’s Michiana Chronicle, It’s back to school time … After 45 years, first as a student and then as a teacher, last year, Sid Shroyer quit going back.
Someone teaches in the room where I taught. Prepared for every circumstance, trained and experienced, interesting and inspiring, joyfully engaged in making the world a better place every hour of every day, 150 times a day, 180 days a year, firm, but fair with high expectations, improving student test scores, a collegial attitude, and a great memory for every name.I remember, “Hi Mr. Shroyer,” says Alex, as he or she passes in the hall, which is nice but Alex looks like someone I had five or was it fifteen years ago. “I thought you graduated,” could be the truth and it makes Alex feel old the way teenagers love feeling old, and covers the fact that I don’t remember the name. Someone sits in the desk where you sat, 10,20—maybe 40 or 50 years ago, in the same row behind the girl you never spoke to, in the same room with the same pasty green walls and the admonitions to achieve: ACHIEVE…….PREVAIL……SUCCEED, you know, the code for “do what the teacher tells you to do” neatly posted above the blackboard. It’s your first day. A woman greets you at the classroom door with a this-is-where-you-belong smile. She’s nice. Do you remember her name? Can you remember the year? You drive by the building and it’s the same building and you imagine the same people that you knew inside, the 16 year old you and the 16 year old she that you never once spoke to in the desk ahead of you. They want to hear from you. “Tell us,” they say, “What is life like 50 years from now? How many people live on the moon?” But that’s a dream. The 16 year old “they” live as far away as you, some farther than the moon, unreachable, gone from life. They do not wait for you. You did not wait for them. You couldn’t wait to get out of there. ACHIEVE…PREVAIL….SUCCEED. August, 2016, the new school year starts: the back pack kids who never age walk by my house and the school bus brakes grab on for dear life. Fifty years from then, now, it’s not what it was, school: the classrooms, the teachers, the admonitions, even. It’s not how you remember it; it’s not what you think it is. “Kids, this is what we do when the guy with the gun shows up.” RUN…HIDE….FIGHT. These are the new admonitions,the basic, easy to understand directive in the Active Shooter Drill. “Kids, this is what we do when the guy with the gun shows up.” This is what we do when the girl in the desk in front of you that you never spoke to is ……………………. RUN…. HIDE…. FIGHT. Active. Shooter. Drills. We ask the police to do too much and we do too little. That’s what the President said in his eulogy for the murdered Dallas policemen last month. We ask the police, he said, to be the last line of defense, to be drug counselors and social workers, and teachers and even parents, while we turn our backs on some small sacrifice we might easily make to help lift the lives of the falling. As we want the cops to be teachers, we leave it to the teachers and administrators, and, even in some cases, the students, to be cops. Open carry. Guns in the desk drawer. Active shooter drills. Nothing we can do about it. “Gotta be pro-active.” “It’s the real world.” “Kids, this is what we do when the guy with the gun shows up.” Just another day, now, with this new, once-a-semester drill at school. RUN….HIDE…. FIGHT. Behind the walls of the school house with all that that conjures up in our collective warm and fuzzy memory brain, the smiling teacher with cafeteria supervision, and the waving teacher who watches the buses pull out of the parking lot …they now tell us what to do when the guy with the gun shows up.