Sandy Hook – a Metaphor for Redemption from Evil

By Charles W. Bindig, Ed.D.

I was not surprised at the bravery and selfless abandon that the teachers of Sandy Hook Elementary School exhibited last Friday in the face of real evil. As a former principal and elementary teacher, one intuitively understands that you need to protect your students at all costs, and that the safety of the school is paramount. I witnessed a television newscaster a few days ago state that he would now treat his children’s teachers with more respect as a result of the Sandy Hook event. This was an interesting remark from an individual, who should know better, but allowed himself to lapse into the thinking that teachers are in the business of making money rather than teaching kids. Actually, teaching kids requires that the entire building staff remain vigilant and protect the children at all costs. I could go on forever, providing examples where principals and teachers acted in a selfless manner. The point is that the school takes keeping our children safe and teaching them to the best of our ability as a calling. This is the very same calling that ministers and nurses understand when they choose to care for their fellow man.
You will never find a harder working group of individuals than the teachers who labor at the elementary level. They are required to teach all subjects, maintain discipline, and make sure that the academic goals are attained. This task is accomplished with varying success, in spite of numerous variables much beyond the average teacher’s control – behavior, academic preparation and parental cooperation. I cannot tell you how many times in my career I called Family Services regarding parents who were abusing their child, knowing full well that this was the most unpopular of all tasks.
The heroic teachers at Sandy Hook knew that they could not stand by and allow anyone to try and hurt their little charges. When Vicky Soto sacrificed herself to shield her students, she knew that they were helpless and were reacting out of panic and fear. We all know that desperate times require desperate strategies and tactics, and for one brief moment, teachers at Sandy Hook were desperate. We have witnessed elementary teachers and professors (Virginia Tech) attempt to shield their students from a gunman – the face of evil. In a sense, it an intuitive reaction that speaks to an underlying philosophy, that the adults must protect the children even if it costs you your own life.
The problem with the small and sleepy elementary school across our country is their extreme vulnerability, and what an easy target it is for someone cross the threshold and murder our children. Sandy Hook will stand as a metaphor for all that is evil in man, but redemptive in the response that ordinary teachers became martyrs for a cause – a cause to teach and protect our most vulnerable – our little ones.

Dr. Bindig is the senior manager of educational outreach for American Public University System and a faculty member for the School of Education. He holds an undergraduate degree from The College of New Jersey and a Master’s Degree in Musicology from Rutgers University. Dr. Bindig received an EdD from Nova Southeastern University with a dual concentration in Educational Leadership and Instructional Technology. He has 32 years of experience as a public school teacher, principal and assistant superintendent in the New Jersey public schools. Dr. Bindig served as the Assistant Director of Global Programs for the Fulbright International Educational Exchange Program, and was the administrator of the Fulbright Interfaith Fellowship Program. Dr. Bindig has taught for several online universities as well as serving as a dissertation advisor for Nova Southeastern University for 10 years. His main focus in educational research is raising student achievement via technology.


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