Connie McCarthy is passionate about her work as a teacher of young children. She has devoted her entire career to making sure that her students do well at school, right from the start. Connie has an undergraduate degree in Elementary Education, and a Master’s Degree in Special Education. She has been teaching first grade in East Providence, R.I. for 23 years, where she received the distinction of “Highly Qualified Teacher” by the Rhode Island State Board of Regents. Connie also taught nursery school for four years, and published numerous articles on early education in East Bay Newspapers in Bristol, R.I. She’s also been published in PTO Today Magazine. She lives with her husband, Brian, and has a daughter and a son, both young adults. Connie enjoys reading, writing about elementary education, and taking long walks with friends. During summer vacations, she likes to travel with her husband. She also loves reading readers’ comments on her weekly blog posts.
I had another post all ready to go for this week…then the unthinkable happened in Newtown, Conn. This is such a horrific tragedy, especially for the families of the victims. It is also a pivotal event for American teachers. People should be aware of how this has impacted everything that we, as teachers, strive to accomplish in our classrooms—and how hard it is not to personalize this awful event.
I have spent 25 years of my career as a 1st grade teacher, interacting daily with 6- and 7-year-old children. Each day the children and I would share the joys and the struggles of learning. I have firsthand knowledge of how a classroom operates, and how that operation creates a safe and nurturing environment.
Yet so many times in the past few years, my school has been required to conduct “Code Red” drills. If my students became anxious or scared about the drills, I would always reassure them that this was just a practice—that we would keep them safe.
My colleagues are stunned and shattered. How will they talk about this in their class? What will they say if their students ask, “Could that happen here?” Yet all are determined to be strong for their students. They’ll put their own fears and insecurities aside to reassure, nurture, and recreate trust that schools are, and will continue to be, a safe place.