'We are going to carry you': Students bring teacher to tears after the Florida shooting.

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 Shopify/Burst.

That's when her students brought her to tears.

"Slowly, quietly, as the words I had said sunk in, another student raised their hand," the teacher wrote in her post. "She said, 'Mrs. Schimmoeller, we already talked about it. If anything happens, we are going to carry you.'"

"I lost it," Schimmoeller concluded in her post, which has amassed more than 33,000 likes and nearly 19,000 shares as of publication.

Today was really hard for me. Today was the first time I had to teach the day after a mass school shooting. I dreaded...

Posted by Marissa Schimmoeller on Thursday, February 15, 2018

"With tears in my eyes as I type this, I want my friends and family to know that I understand that it is hard to find the good in the world, especially after a tragedy like the one that we have watched unfold, but there is good. True goodness. It was found in the hearts of my students today."

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.

You can support students taking action against gun violence at March for Our Lives or visit Everytown for Gun Safety to learn more and act.

True

Shanda Lynn Poitra was born and raised on the Turtle Mountain Reservation in Belcourt, North Dakota. She lived there until she was 24 years old when she left for college at the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks.

"Unfortunately," she says, "I took my bad relationship with me. At the time, I didn't realize it was so bad, much less, abusive. Seeing and hearing about abusive relationships while growing up gave me the mentality that it was just a normal way of life."

Those college years away from home were difficult for a lot of reasons. She had three small children — two in diapers, one in elementary school — as well as a full-time University class schedule and a part-time job as a housekeeper.

"I wore many masks back then and clothing that would cover the bruises," she remembers. "Despite the darkness that I was living in, I was a great student; I knew that no matter what, I HAD to succeed. I knew there was more to my future than what I was living, so I kept working hard."

While searching for an elective class during this time, she came across a one-credit, 20-hour IMPACT self-defense class that could be done over a weekend. That single credit changed her life forever. It helped give her the confidence to leave her abusive relationship and inspired her to bring IMPACT classes to other Native women in her community.

I walked into class on a Friday thinking that I would simply learn how to handle a person trying to rob me, and I walked out on a Sunday evening with a voice so powerful that I could handle the most passive attacks to my being, along with physical attacks."

It didn't take long for her to notice the difference the class was making in her life.

"I was setting boundaries and people were either respecting them or not, but I was able to acknowledge who was worth keeping in my life and who wasn't," she says.

Following the class, she also joined a roller derby league where she met many other powerful women who inspired her — and during that summer, she found the courage to leave her abuser.

"As afraid as I was, I finally had the courage to report the abuse to legal authorities, and I had the support of friends and family who provided comfort for my children and I during this time," she says.

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This article originally appeared on 08.30.14


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