by Kylee Brown
Whether a teacher has twenty years of experience in the classroom or two months, most are now required to add a new subject to their academic planning in the current school environment: educators are working to plan for safety in schools in the event of a live shooter, and calming worried students afraid their school could be next. This unthinkable idea has increasingly become a grim reality across the U.S.
Lauren Lanski has been with the Ventura Unified School District for 15 years, the last five as a Health Education, Career Technical Education, and PE teacher at Buena High. She said that with the recent increase in school shootings, she’s seen that more of her students have been affected. “After the last major shooting in Texas I’ve noticed that some of my students were scared, and a few didn’t come to school,” said Lanksi. “I validated their feelings, and at the same time, tried to reassure them that I felt safe and that we’d be ok.” However, she shared that she has been on heightened alert for several years. “In the last few weeks with the increase of school shootings, I am constantly staring at everyone on campus to make sure there’s a reason that they should be here,” she said.
She does not believe teachers should have to be armed. “I personally do not want to be armed with a gun at school. If I truly felt that afraid that I should have to carry a gun, I’d have to personally reconsider what I’m doing,” said Lanski.
Some teachers feel it should be up to individuals to decide if they want to carry a firearm in the classroom. Lawren Agnew is a new preschool teacher and a high school cheer coach. She said she is confident in her school’s active shooter protocols but nervous in the presence of guns. When asked if teachers should be armed in the future, she responded, “If they feel comfortable enough to be armed, then yes, I feel like it would be up to the teachers if they feel comfortable doing it or not.” Agnew said that if schools allowed teachers to carry on campus, the school should be responsible for paying for proper training. Amidst the gun violence in schools nationwide, she still feels safe. “You do what you’ve got to do to protect yourself and keep those kids safe.” she said.
It also falls to the teachers to reassure, prepare, and protect students. Marcia Amegadzie has taught PE and Health at Buena for the last ten years. Amegadzie takes an open and strategic role in starting the conversation with her students for tactics to stay safe. “I tell them, ‘don’t ever be sitting ducks.’ I say I would be the first line of defense, and they should look around the classroom to see what they could pick up to use as a weapon,” she said. “My approach is, again, if we see a clear path, let’s get the heck out of here.”
She believes in taking strategic action, but she is very much against teachers carrying on campus. “I feel like that is just a massive disaster waiting to happen if teachers are armed,” said Amegadzie. “If a teacher ever feels threatened by a student, what are they going to do? They could say ‘I felt my life was in danger,’ and the student could possibly be innocent, but it’s that teacher’s viewpoint of the student and situation. I just think that’s a really, really terrible idea.”
Amegadzie suggested that more significant investments should be made on campus security instead of focusing money on arming teachers. “In general, schools just need to be more aware, more alert,” she said.
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