Chipping at the Trust

Teachers are a big part of life.

When you’re young, you trust them to teach you the things you need to know. They teach you how to  share, how three comes before four, how you never throw stuffed animals at other children, how brown is the best color to fingerpaint a dog.

As you get older, you continue to trust them to teach you the things you need to know. They teach you how to write an essay properly, how to graph a quadratic equation, how enzymes make DNA, and how we might change the future.

You identify with them as people who are always there: no matter what, there will be school on Monday, and you know that there will be a teacher there to help you learn.

What do you do when that trust is gone?

When Jeff Schare was arrested for sexually assaulting two girls, that trust crumbled. Students found themselves questioning everything that had happened previously in classes. Facebook was coated in posts from past students reacting to the news. Articles about Mr. Schare were posted and reposted. People were surprised, angry, upset, regretful. Trusting was not among the emotions voiced.

What do you do when you realize teachers aren’t who you thought they were?

When you’re in school, you put eternal faith in teachers. You don’t know anything about the War of 1812, but you assume your teacher does. You might have no idea about what Juliet is saying in her soliloquy, but ask teachers – they’ll know. Without checking Wikipedia, Google, or even your textbook, you are sure that your teacher is correct. Trust is essential.

So when one teacher violates that trust, when the actions of one teacher make everything you knew before evaporate, what do you do?

You look to all the others.

Throughout the tragedy of Sandy Hook, teachers proved themselves. They were heroes, more than worthy of our trust.

Victoria Soto, a first grade teacher in Newtown, was found defending her students from the shooter until the very last moment, when she was killed. Another teacher was found draped over her students, defending them with every ounce of her being.

Has there ever been more concrete evidence proving that teachers deserve our trust?

Teachers everywhere swear that they would give up their lives for their students. Other than parents, and Secret Service agents sworn to defend the President, there aren’t many people who would make this kind of promise.

It seems to be the final layer of trust that seals together student and teacher in everyday life in a way that we tend to overlook.

Maybe I’m biased because my parents are teachers – my mom is an English teacher and my dad is a librarian. Maybe, but I also know (I’ve heard both of my parents say it) that most teachers would give up their lives for their students.

We do stop trusting a few teachers after they do things we will never forgive them for.

However, we also have to remember- there are only a few.