Marissa Schimmoeller teaches English at a high school in Ohio. She also happens to use a wheelchair.
As you may expect, Schimmoeller was on edge returning to work after the horrifying shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High in Florida. "As the first students walked in, I began to feel the anxiety pooling in my stomach," she recollected from those first tense moments starting a new day.
But Schimmoeller was dreading one question specifically because she uses a wheelchair: "Mrs. Schimmoeller, what will we do if a shooter comes in your room?"
Photo courtesy of Marissa Schimmoeller.
Inevitably, the question was asked.
"My stomach sank," Schimmoeller wrote in a Facebook post on Feb. 15. "I launched into my pre-planned speech about our plan of action."
But then came the more difficult part of her answer, she noted — the part she'd especially been dreading.
"I want you to know that I care deeply about each and every one of you and that I will do everything I can to protect you," she assured them. "But, being in a wheelchair, I will not be able to protect you the way an able-bodied teacher will."
She continued: "If there is a chance for you to escape, I want you to go. Do not worry about me. Your safety is my number one priority."
Photo via Marissa Schimmoeller.
Schimmoeller's big-hearted students are truly good. They're incredibly thoughtful. They care.
They're also having to think about things no teenager should: how to help their teacher (and themselves) survive a mass shooting.
That's not OK. That's not normal.
We are better than this.