‘We have to be prepared’: Mecklenburg County teachers react to Texas school shooting

Teachers everywhere, including in the Carolinas, plan for active-shooter situations, though they pray it never happens.
Teachers across the country are having to prepare for active-shooter situations.
Published: May. 27, 2022 at 5:36 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Seeing the photos of all 19 students and two teachers killed in Uvalde, Texas hits close to home for the people who are in schools daily.

Eva Mireles and Irma Garcia taught fourth grade together. It was inside of their classroom where the gunman opened fire, killing them both and most of their class. Teachers everywhere, including here in Charlotte, plan for it, though they pray it never happens.

“Sadness, fear, anger.”

Emotions teachers everywhere are feeling. Each day Jenna Klemm stands before her class of second-graders at Lake Wylie Elementary School, it’s in the back of her mind, ‘What do I do if the unthinkable happens?’

“Not to hide under the desks because you’re going to probably die either way, if the shooter comes into the room, so might as well fight for your lives,” Klemm said. “Have each student grab something, grab something sharp, pencils or scissors, and if they, God forbid, come into the room to throw it at him.”

She goes back to what she learned in active-shooter training.

“It’s scary to think about that stuff but in today’s society we have to, we have to be prepared,” Klemm said.

Prepared not just to teach but protect. It’s a heavy burden and one of the reasons Hannah Powers stopped teaching altogether. She never thought that she’d have to plan how to fight off a shooter when she became a teacher.

Every teacher has a plan to fight back. For Powers, it was a can of wasp spray in her desk.

“If I’m the one protecting these precious little lives, I’m going to do everything in my power to keep them safe,” Powers said.

But they’re tired of fighting. Klemm said it has to stop and she hopes this time teachers are heard.

“We need to be loud enough to share how we’re feeling about this and advocate for change,” Klemm said.

Klemm said one of her biggest fears is keeping her room quiet if a shooter is inside her school.

She said she was told to keep lollipops in her desk to pass out to kids – to keep them distracted and silent.

Both teachers say there needs to be policy change – in the meantime they said they would sacrifice themselves to save their students.

Related: Cabarrus Co. Schools, law enforcement discuss school safety

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