There are no words to express our collective grief. "Our thoughts and prayers..." and "heartbroken," while genuine and deep, ring as utterly hollow and fail to measure up to the gravity of the horrifying events at Uvalde’s Robb Elementary School, which took the lives of 19 children and two teachers; others are still fighting to survive.
Like many of you, we have witnessed the power of schools as places of safety, security, love for children and pride for communities, even within contexts that are quite fragile. In our time spent working in the United States and abroad, we have visited schools with no electricity, no curriculum and limited seating for student learning, as well as schools embedded in communities that were steeped in violence and local warfare. Yet, even in those places of limited resources and dangerous conditions, we still observed the uniquely sacred protection of schools as sanctuaries for students, families and teachers.
What occurred in Uvalde, the second deadliest K12 school shooting in U.S. history, is another in a long line of events that shatter this basic, sacred premise of schools as safe and secure places for students. If our children are not safe there, then where? Like many of you, we are left with a feeling of desperation, of helplessness. Our schools—like places of worship—should be protective safe havens. They are where we go to be cared for, to gain perspective, to learn and to grow, to find identity and to flourish. They are places of nurturing and understanding. But with each new tragedy, from Sandy Hook, to Columbine, Santa Fe, Parkland and Uvalde, these safe and precious spaces have become less so.
As a community invested in the development of educators and those who care for young people in schools, we are profoundly devastated by these events. Despite the immediate sense of hopelessness and grief that something so cherished has been fully disrupted, we will soon raise the memories of the lives cut short by senseless violence as we again dedicate ourselves to healing and supporting our students, teachers, communities and one another.
On behalf of the college’s leadership team, we hope we all find the support—through counseling, meditation, and constructive and supportive engagement with colleagues and loved ones—to remember the flickering glimmer of purpose that draws us to lead our community in advancing equity, eliminating disparities in health and education, attending to place and context, and thriving through transitions. We are stronger than we may feel right now.
Charles R. Martinez, Jr., Dean
Beth Maloch, Senior Associate Dean
Sherry Field, Associate Dean for Faculty Development and Educator Preparation
Alex Loukas, Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Studies
Richard Reddick, Associate Dean for Equity, Community Engagement and Outreach