A little over two weeks ago, the “Teacher of the Year” at a middle school in the devastated state of Florida dashed off an impassioned note on her Facebook page. After spending what had to be a dreadful night for every teacher across the United States, Kelly Guthrie Raley sent what you are about to read at 5:25 a.m., this before leaving home to begin calming her children at the Eustis Middle School.
Eustis, so you’ll know, is about 40 miles northwest of Orlando or, much more importantly, some 230 miles above Parkland, where 16 students and a teacher had been massacred the day before. February 14th will be remembered as a day where a little piece of every school teacher in America died. We must come together and stop this evil.
What you also need to know is that by mid-afternoon yesterday – in just two weeks -- Kelly’s Facebook post had been “liked” by just south of one million people (923K). Viral, are you kidding me! My goodness, it has been shared by other Facebook users 765,284 times because, as three-quarters of a million people agreed with me, it desperately has a message for every single one of us.
My attention to Kelly’s post was sent to me in the way I hope you’ll accept it, too. The friend who forwarded it to me wrote, “A breath of fresh air is hard to come by when our schools are being turned into zones of fear and violence. But a welcome breath of fresh air, fueled by good sense and parental responsibility, is what you will find … “
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“BE THE PARENT WHO GIVES A CRAP!”
By Kelly Guthrie Raley of Eustis, Fla.
OK, I’ll be the bad guy and say what no one else is brave enough to say, but wants to say. I’ll take all the criticism and attacks from everyone because -- you know what? I’m a teacher. I live this life daily. And I wouldn’t do anything else! But I also know daily I could end up in an active shooter situation.
Until we, as a country, are willing to get serious and talk about mental health issues, lack of available care for the mental health issues, lack of discipline in the home, horrendous lack of parental support when the schools are trying to control horrible behavior at school (‘Oh no! Not MY KID. What did YOU do to cause my kid to react that way?’), lack of moral values, and yes, I’ll say it – violent video games that take away all sensitivity to any compassion for others’ lives, these things and “Reality TV” makes it commonplace for people to constantly scream up in each other’s’ faces and not value any other person but themselves, we will have a gun problem in school. Our kids don’t understand the permanency of death anymore!!!
I grew up with guns. Everyone knows that. But you know what? My parents NEVER supported any bad behavior from me. I was terrified of doing something bad at school, as I would have not had a life until I corrected the problem and straightened my ass out.
My parents invaded my life. They knew where I was all the time. They made me have a curfew. They made me wake them up when I got home. They made me respect their rules. They had full control of their house, and, at any time, could and would go through every inch of my bedroom, backpack, pockets, anything! Parents: it’s time to step up! Be the parent who actually gives a crap!
Be the annoying mom that pries and knows what your kid is doing. STOP being their friend. They have enough “friends” at school. Be their parent. Being the “cool mom” means not a damn thing when either your kid is dead or your kid kills other people because they were allowed to have their space and privacy in YOUR HOME.
I’ll say it again. My home was filled with guns growing up. For God’s sake, my daddy was an 82nd Airborne Ranger who lost half his face serving our country. But you know what? I never dreamed of shooting anyone with his guns. I never dreamed of taking one!
I was taught respect for human life, compassion, rules, common decency, and most of all, I was taught that until I moved out, my life and bedroom wasn’t mine...it was theirs. And they were going to know what was happening because they loved me and wanted the best for me.
There. Say that I’m a horrible person. I didn’t bring up gun control, and I will refuse to debate it with anyone. This post wasn’t about gun control. This was me, loving the crap out of people and wanting the best for them. This was about my school babies and knowing that God created each one for greatness, and just wanting them to reach their futures.
It’s about 20 years ago this year I started my teaching career. Violence was not this bad 20 years ago. Lack of compassion wasn’t this bad 20 years ago. And God knows 20 years ago that I wasn’t afraid daily to call a parent because I knew that 9 out of 10 would cuss me out, tell me to go to Hell, call the news on me, call the school board on me, or post all over Facebook about me because I called to let them know what their child chose to do at school ... because they are a NORMAL kid!!!!!
Those 17 lives mattered. When are we going quit scape-goating and take our own responsibility seriously?
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Yesterday I tried to get in touch with Christy CoCo Prickett McCain. According to Facebook, she is a mutual friend on Facebook of Kelly Guthrie Raley and myself. I need for Christy to let Kelly know that if she ever gets tired of the heat and bugs and traffic and snakes and chiggers in Eustis, Florida, we’ve got a bunch of “school babies” here in Tennessee who need someone exactly like her.
I know because the United States of America does, too.