I didn’t know Dawn Hochsprung, but I think that I would have liked her (she started Tweeting on my birthday this year… endearing). As the nation and the world writhed in pain over the unimaginable event at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut yesterday, I pondered the fabric of the educational leaders that I support and nurture. Dawn was very like us in every way that I can see from her most recent Twitter Feed. That she used Twitter meant that she understood and was harnessing the power of social media for good in her school community.
She recently posted about a non-fiction book preview for the Common Core. This is the topic that has most of the literary folks in our nation’s schools and universities fixated right now because of the shifts in the Common Core State Standards. Her post is positive and pragmatic. These are touchstones of thoughtful leaders. She posts about the rehearsals of students preparing for a concert that now, may never be: pic.twitter.com/uaFKGikZ
As the parent of a public school child who participated in a winter concert this week, this one made me smile and tear up at the same time. I wondered if my son’s principal had time in her crazy busy day to enjoy the fruits of her students’ talents. Dawn’s post would have likely reminded parents and teachers of the upcoming event that would have drawn the community together. I mourn for their loss. For the loss of a leader who looked forward to the gifts of the children in this school. For the loss of the innocent children who sang like angels, not knowing what the future held. For the loss of the community event that would bind them ever closer together in ways that would never be undone.
I raged a bit yesterday listening to the news where reporters pressed young children ripped from the horrors of the day into service for the press. My heart bled for the mothers and fathers who were not quickly united with children who had been through an unthinkable ordeal. My mind cannot wrap around the ways that we must provide for the children who witnessed this violent act paths to restoration and hope for their futures.
I mourn the loss today of the children and their principal, and other adult leaders who were preparing like school children everywhere for a season of celebration. Like the parents in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, what was aimed at celebration becomes the stuff of a funeral. The weeping seems parallel here. Mother Capulet says Accursed, unhappy, wretched, hateful day!
44 Most miserable hour that e’er time saw
45 In lasting labor of his pilgrimage!
46 But one, poor one, one poor and loving child,
47 But one thing to rejoice and solace in,
48 And cruel death hath catch’d it from my sight!
The nurse joins in with
O woe! O woeful, woeful, woeful day!
50 Most lamentable day, most woeful day,
51 That ever, ever, I did yet behold!
52 O day! O day! O day! O hateful day!
53 Never was seen so black a day as this:
54 O woeful day, O woeful day!
Despised, distressed, hated, martyr’d, kill’d!
60 Uncomfortable time, why camest thou now
61 To murder, murder our solemnity?
62 O child! O child! my soul, and not my child!
63 Dead art thou! Alack! my child is dead;
64 And with my child my joys are buried.
Friar Lawrence gives his counsel:
And so it is for the community of Sandy Newtown Elementary School. Today we weep and mourn with you in the loss of your loved ones. The incredible sudden sadness is unbearable, and while we are strangers, we share much. Your principal was a leader in a place and time that wants much from educators. Now she seems much like the leader next door as we contemplate and join in grieving for your losses. Today all are punished.
A voice is heard mourning and weeping, great weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more. Jeremiah 31:15
Today we all weep.
Here are other links to articles about Dawn, her staff, and students: http://gu.com/p/3ch7v
Links to news sources worth reading:
Her husband tells us about Dawn: CNN link
Newseum: today’s front pages fb.me/1TxzPfEVY
Stay in your heart, no matter how painful (wisdom from Parker Palmer)
Video clip Dawn’s daughter