A Teen's School Shooting Strategy Made Her Teacher, Who Uses A Wheelchair, Tear Up

"If anything happens, we are going to carry you."

For English teacher Marissa Schimmoeller, the Feb. 14 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida that took the lives of 17 students and teachers left her feeling particularly vulnerable.

In addition to being an educator, Schimmoeller also happens to be in a wheelchair. For her, the Douglas tragedy served as (yet another) stark reminder that were a shooting to take place at her Delphos, Ohio school, she may not be able to protect her students in "the way an able-bodied teacher" might.

With that in mind when she returned to Jefferson Senior High School the day after the Parkland shooting, Schimmoeller knew she needed to have a discussion with her students about what to do if a shooter entered her classroom. "Soon after class began, a freshman asked me the question I had been dreading since I had heard about the tragedy in Florida," Schimmoeller wrote in a Facebook post that has now gone viral. "'Mrs. Schimmoeller, what will we do if a shooter comes in your room?'"


Having anticipated the difficult query, Schimmoeller talked about a plan of action and made it clear to her students that their safety was her chief concern. In that vein, she recalled telling them, "I want you to know that I care deeply about each and every one of you and that I will do everything I can to protect you. But - being in a wheelchair, I will not be able to protect you the way an able-bodied teacher will. And if there is a chance for you to escape, I want you to go. Do not worry about me. Your safety is my number one priority."

That's when, according to Schimmoeller's Facebook post, another student raised her hand with a reply so full of compassion, it moved the teacher to tears. As Schimmoeller recalled, the student said, "Mrs. Schimmoeller, we already talked about it. If anything happens, we are going to carry you."

"I lost it," Schimmoeller said of her reaction to the selfless gesture. "With tears in my eyes as I type this, I want my friends and family to know that I understand that it is hard to find the good in the world, especially after a tragedy like the one that we have watched unfold, but there is good. True goodness. It was found in the hearts of my students today."

The reply from Schimmoeller's students serves as yet another reminder that even as lawmakers have failed to enact stricter gun control laws in the wake of dozens of mass shootings, the students they have been unwilling to adequately protect are taking matters into their own hands. As Parkland survivor Cameron Kasky said last week, "This can be stopped. This needs to be stopped."

To date, Schimmoeller's Facebook post has amassed nearly 44,000 likes, over 23,000 shares, and thousands of comments. As one user put it, "If only our lawmakers had the sense and the humanity of our children."

A Jefferson Senior High School press release written after Schimmoeller's Facebook post went viral says that the teacher hopes that her story will "be a vehicle that fosters empathy for others" and will offer "a testimony to the power of young people and the resilience of the disabled population."


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