Thursday, October 1, 2015

Where I Work

Today's Capture Your 365 photo prompt is "Where I Work."  I was excited by this prompt because it encouraged me to take photos in a place where I normally am not thinking about my camera.  The sad part here is that it is the place that I have come nearly every work day for the past 23 years and of which I have very few photos.

As I walked in to school this morning, I was thinking about the possibilities for today's photo.  So many aspects of where I work would be worthy of a photo to represent my workplace - my students, my colleagues, the quirky details of my classroom or the music building, or perhaps a bigger picture of our campus.   

My teaching day began at 7:30am.  These were the students that I missed seeing on Tuesday when I was home sick.  Even though they had a test, they asked how I was feeling and we're glad that I was back.  This made for a wonderful start to my day.

I continued through the morning teaching back to back classes - lecturing in some, returning tests in another, and testing again in my last class of the day.  And then I went to lunch.  As I always do, I checked my personal email and Facebook expecting to find my email full of ads and my Facebook feed full of beautiful photos posted by my fellow CY365ers.  Instead, my phone's home screen was filled with news alerts about another mass shooting.  This one in  Oregon.  This one on a community college campus.  Suddenly,  my perspective on where I work changed.

Where I work is on a community college campus much like that of Umpqua Community College, the site of today's shooting rampage.  Every day I stand up in the front of a classroom filled with students just like those who were injured and killed today.  And every day, that scenario that unfolded in Oregon could have just as easily be where I work - in a classroom that I enter each day, without any reservation.

Those students at Umpqua Community College were in only the first week of their fall semester.  A morning and a  semester that for them began full of possibilities, hopes, and dreams ended in a few short minutes.  What could have been, no longer given a chance.  The lives of all those  sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, friends, and lovers who were working to better themselves by gaining an education now, rather than earning a college degree, earn a place in history as ten more innocent people taken by gun violence in this country.  

This is where I work.  In a classroom full of students striving to realize their dreams.  In a classroom where the reality is that those dreams can be shattered far more quickly and easily than they can be realized.  This is where I work.  On a college campus in a state whose legislature has voted to permit the legal possession of guns on our college campuses.   This is where I work.  

This is where I work.  Giving my all to every student with whom I share a classroom.  Hoping that I can play at least a small part in helping to make each of their dreams come true.  Praying that the senseless violence that has struck so many students in so many schools in so many places
 ceases and that none of us has to experience fear in any classroom.  This is where I work.

My heart aches for all of those whose lives are forever changed by the events on the Umpqua Community College campus today.  I pray for this college community, for the family and friends of those who were injured and those who lost their lives, for the students and staff who will return to that campus next week trying to move forward, for all those who enter classrooms around the world every day, for all those who believe that violence is an answer.   This is where I work.