My thoughts on the Florida tragedy and Nikolas Cruz

“We had this monster living under our roof and we didn’t know,” This is a quote from Kimberly Snead, the lady who took Nikolas Cruz into her home in Florida.  Cruz adopted mom and dad had both passed away, and he dealt with mental issues and depression. Nikolas decided on Wednesday, February 14, to go into a school and murder as many people as he could. As a result, 17 people lost their lives, and hundreds, if not thousands were forever affected.

I work in a school. I am at the school for approx. 20 hours a week, hanging with middle school and high school students. Its the same sort of school that Nikolas came into and stared shooting at last week. The school is filled with kids, kids who want friendship, acceptance, an education and safety. For me, the most important thing is that I make kids feel safe and noticed. No kid at school should feel unwanted, unnoticed, or unloved, no matter how bad or how awkward that kid may be. Does this mean we don’t discipline kids, or expel them when its needed? No, we need those things to keep school safe, and keep kids learning, but love must always be at the heart of it all.

I am also a missionary. I have been a career missionary (such a strange term) for the past 22 years. In fact, I wrote a paper last year for my masters program on what a missionary is. If you have time, check it here. Currently, because I am a missionary, I work in a school, among other things. Over the past 17 months that I have been involved with the school, I have seem the importance of education and teachers in the lives of kids. Teachers are mentors, examples, councilors, cheerleaders, coaches, friends (yes, friends), models, disciplinarians, father and mother figures, guides, educators and advisors. They spend more time with kids than any other person in a kids life, including a mom, dad, sister or brother.

Since this is the case, we, as teachers, need to be giving our best to our students, not just our best education, but our best selves. We are more than just educators, we are the people who can and should be walking with our students, to see them succeed and thrive. Im not saying that Nikolas didn’t have this in his school, Im just saying that I think this is one of the key’s to this sort of tragedy not happening any more. If a student walked into my school, with gun, and the intent to kill, I would hope that when that student saw me, or any other teacher in the school, that they would stop, think, refrain and put down their weapon. Our life, and belief in our students should bring change to their behavior and intent. This is my goal, and I pray it is the goal of all teachers out there.

Written by Phil Cunningham.

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