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Global Pandemic and Gun Sales.

The FBI conducted 3.7 million background checks this March, the highest total since the national instant check system was launched in 1998.

“The period of March 17-21 was an especially busy period for the background check system. More than 210,000 checks were conducted on March 21 alone, the record for a single day.”NBC News

This trend has another unfortunate outcome; an increase in suicides.

With staggering unemployment, increased social unrest, systematic racism and family/friends isolated, dying alone in a hospital from a global pandemic, it’s no wonder suicide has escalated as well.

Evidence has shown that new handgun ownership is strongly associated with suicide. This is especially problematic because statistically, suicide will happen immediately after purchasing the weapon. And we’re already starting to see a spike in gun violence this year, with shootings doubling in some areas compared to last year.

Anxiety and fear spurred by COVID-19 and the protests/riots are the roots of this firearm purchasing explosion. Another accelerant that we should factor in is, the CDC has reported an increase of people having signs of (PTSD) anxiety disorder (30% +) and depressive disorder (23%) in surveys conducted from mid-April to mid-May. And these trends are especially worrisome because new gun owners are at a substantially higher risk of suicide.

“Stay Home, Stay Safe” has other implications to the clinically depressed. Yes, self-isolation will flatten the curve of COVID-19 but it will increase the sense of loneliness and despair, which could lead to suicide.

The spark of George Floyd’s death has created a movement against systematic racism. Tensions are high everywhere we look. Justly so. Purchasing a handgun can give people a false sense of control in these truly unprecedented times we are living in.

“People are worried with law enforcement stretched to the maximum, now responding to only selected calls,” he said. “They realize that when bad things happen, it’s going to be up to them to be able to defend themselves and their families.” -Andrew Arulanandam, a spokesman for the National Rifle Association

This is not the answer. The world is a tinderbox right now.

“Enter the importance of red flag laws. Policy and public health experts created this court-issued order as a temporary prohibition on gun purchase or possession, but only when documented evidence shows someone is a threat to themselves or others…….Unfortunately, red flag laws are not in force everywhere. Just 19 states and the District of Columbia have them in some form, each with slight variations in who can petition for the order, but the general principles are the same.” – Scientific America

A few states have chosen to close gun stores, including NY, MA, and NM. In WA , Gov. Inslee left gun dealers off the list of essential businesses. That didn’t stop some dealers that stayed open regardless. Many argued that shutting gun stores down violated the 2nd Amendment. As the COVID-19 cases surge, firearms will remain a horrific challenge to public health.

We need to work together, to look out for our fellow man. We need to work together to prevent gun violence, and red flag laws are an effective tactic. We have many hurdles in front of us right now.

  • -Global Pandemic
  • -Systematic Racism
  • -Massive Unemployment
  • -Political Unrest

We are living in a tinderbox.

Check in with your family.

Check in with your friends.

Check in with your neighbors.

“Sometimes even to live is an act of courage.”
― Lucius Annaeus Seneca

Is teaching right for you?

Teachers. They have the power to change our lives forever. I know personally, I am still close to my elementary art teacher (along with several of my college professors). Her kindness and view of art/the world, changed my 8 year old brain forever. But I’ve never asked her why she got into education to begin with.

Let’s be honest, it’s not for the paycheck or the short hours.

The reasons to become a teacher are much deeper than very attractive vacation time and making things with glitter, paste and construction paper. The need for teachers is constant and a much higher need exists for educators in special education, math, science, and English as a second language. The world is becoming smaller by the minute.

We asked our friends and family members that have chosen this noble career of education, a very simple question; Why? And we received some very honest answers. You’ll be surprised. We were.

Ok ok, a NOT so surprising .

“I became a teacher….because I did not want to work so damn much. I absolutely love having two weeks off at Christmas, a Spring Break and an entire Summer off!!!!! I can share my love of politics and current events with my students!!”

MaryJo -History Teacher in South Carolina

Teachers, of course do so much more than teach. Their impact extends far beyond the classroom. As a teacher, you are more than just an educator: you are a mentor, a confidant and a friend. One of the most common reasons to become a teacher is to make a difference in the lives of as many students as you can.

“Once upon a time I was young and naive, I thought I could get into education and work with kids to make a huge difference in their lives. Which I absolutely do get to do! Getting into education had always been all about helping kids. I won’t lie to you, the calendar is appealing, too. But it is not the reason I went into education.”

Kate- Occupational Therapist NY State

We’ve all heard that great proverb, ” If you give a man a fish, he eats for a day; If you teach a man to fish, he eats for a lifetime.“, Ellen, a retired teacher/librarian wanted to do just that. She wanted others to find the information they needed to improve their lives.

“My undergraduate degree is in teaching English, 7-12, but I got sidetracked with a library science minor and decided to get my masters in that field. So yes, I have taught young people, middle aged people, and old people how to educate themselves, how to find the information they need to improve their lives, complete a project, to entertain themselves, find the “real news” in this confusing world, and countless other ways. I am a “teach them how to find needed information by themselves,” rather than a “find the information and give to them” kind of librarian. Kind of like the give a man a fish…. kind of theory.”

Ellen- Retired Librarian Watertown, NY

“I became a teacher, because I wanted to give back to my community.” One of the reasons for becoming a teacher is to contribute to your community in a meaningful way. Teaching is one of the most direct ways to make an impact, and if you are driven by the desire to help those around you, being a teacher is an invaluable contribution. You’ll go to work knowing that your students will have to face a changing, sometimes terrifying world of foreign affairs, a scary future of AI and fast-moving advancements in technology/automation. That means, it is absolutely necessary to equip the youngest generation with the tools and skills to innovate in an unpredictable world.

You’ll learn as well as teach.

During lessons, your students will ask questions. In primary education, they are amusing, charming and downright funny. A friend of mine told me once, in her son’s 2nd Grade class, everyone was asked to draw a ‘plant’. Her son drew a factory. Children are surprising.

Surprising answer, but clearly not wrong.

As a higher level educator, your students will surprise and challenge you. You might have the answers. But other poignant times, you’ll have to dig deeper and look at the world from a different perspective. For example, if you’re a science teacher, you can also be a science student every school year. In the process, you’d have the opportunity to integrate new research, technology, and other science breakthroughs into your lessons.

“I love what I teach. I have a good balance of personality and professionalism. I feel like I can relate to students. I am mostly a very positive friendly person , but can flick the switch if needed. Teaching, at least in VT, allows you to be very creative in how you teach. The downside is all the politics, outside pressure, and the lack of respect that the general population has for the profession. Oh yeah and summertime!”

Aaron- Chemistry Teacher South Burlington, VT

And some teachers find that they have influenced entire families! By establishing relationships and extended roots in a community, it means that you’ll be able to build a solid foundation for the future of our world. Just like Lois. She’s been teaching dance/movement for decades, to all ages, and skill levels. “I’m never bored. My students inspire me.”

“I love children and I want to share as much love and healing as is humanly possible to help them. The children that are struggling, they stick out to me. That’s why I teach, for those children. I used to be one of them and part of me always will be. “

Lois- Dance Instructor Burlington, VT

Your role as a teacher is to guide the future by influencing students’ views and their understanding of the world they belong in. Also, you’d help them find undiscovered creativity, develop new behaviors, and foster a broadening global view, that will help them maneuver this demanding world with a positive mindset.

“Teachers provided vital support at critical times in my life so that I could graduate high school and go to college. I figured if I could do that for a someone else and do art as well, it would be a satisfying career.”

Dick- Retired Art Professor Bomoseen, VT

A teacher’s impact has exponential factor. Changing one life, that in turn changes others. Ok, JUST for a moment, continue down that thought path. It becomes overwhelming filled with possibilities, doesn’t it? The sheer potential to interact with children/adults at all stages of development and from all walks of life, can AND will change the world. A phenomenal teacher will help students along a path that will shape the person they will become. If helping a child that is struggling with low self-esteem, problems at home, or social anxiety…then become a teacher to encourage them. You’ll help them find their self-confidence and discover their potential. Becoming a teacher lets you share life lessons that your students will never forget. Essentially, becoming a teacher allows you to shape the next generation. That’s what drew Autumn into teaching.

“I needed a career where I felt like I was changing the world to make it better. Plus kids are just so damn cute and funny and free and open that they make me a better and happier person. “

Autumn – Spanish and Dance Teacher Burlington, VT

Just for a moment, apply a social justice lens to teaching. One student or one class at a time—can be immensely rewarding. You can bridge cultural, political and gender divides. As a teacher you can encourage acceptance, and create an inclusive environment. It’s one thing to teach, it’s another to practice what you teach. And in today’s world, fostering understanding is more important than ever. You have autonomy in your classroom to choose exactly how your students learn. The only limit is your creativity.

“I work in education and I am in it because I want to help create a system where no one is left out and anyone that tries, is given the chance and opportunity to learn in the way they need. Learning can be magical.”

Rebecca – Boston, MA

You can improve the quality of education.

The demand for great teachers is a pressing need. Budget concerns, low teacher retention and alarming drop out rates are still happening across America. When you become a teacher, you can have an impact to the education system. Bring a voice to those who wouldn’t have one without you. Teachers with passion, create enthusiasm and inspire others with their dedication, including their students. When a student becomes empowered and inspired, it in turn inspires you as a teacher. It’s a circle of constantly inspiring and instilling passion. What could be better than that?

“When I used to study with my friends in high school, I loved the light of realization that came over their faces when they came to understanding something, and I was so proud of myself for getting them there when the teacher couldn’t.”

Jenn -7th Grade Science Teacher Ilion, NY

Teaching is not for everyone. Personally, I took one education class in college and said, “NOPE! That’s not for me.” Teaching is a passion and it takes special people to become teachers, and an even better person to stay in the field past the 3-5 year burnout period. So even if teaching in the traditional sense is not for you, there are many different ways to mentor, guide and help out youth, just like Beth.

“My grandmother was in Education and was given the honor of teacher of the year in the state of Maine. I adored my Grammie and wanted to walk in her footsteps. I also loved working with kids. I have worked with kids in different capacities, toddler head teacher, children’s program coordinator at a domestic/sexual violence agency and now a children’s case manager. I love kids, their personalities and their open genuineness.”

Beth -Portland, ME

Survivor’s Guilt

School shootings don’t just kill and maim, the trauma and terror create wounds and the PTSD that remains, leave deep scars across our society. It is easy to forget that there are humans, mostly children that have experienced terrifying nightmarish scenes that will haunt them for the rest of their lives. 

While much research has been done into motives of mass shooters, the psychology of school shooting survivors is just starting. We have so much to learn.

In the 20 yrs since the Columbine high school shooting, approximately 222,500 US students have been exposed to gun violence at 230+ schools nationwide, according to the Washington Post. Many studies show how surviving these traumatizing school shootings can negatively impact all that are involved throughout the rest of their lives. The National Center for PTSD estimates that 28% of people who have witnessed a mass shooting develop post-traumatic stress disorder and about 33% develop acute stress disorder. So it would only make sense that test scores also dramatically plummet.  These effects of trauma will stay with the survivors their entire life.

Survivor’s guilt is real. Sydney Aiello, a 19 yr old Parkland graduate and shooting survivor, killed herself. Her family said Sydney struggled with college because classrooms scared her and she had survivor’s guilt following the death of her friend in the shooting. Just like War Veterans, survivor’s guilt is a very real consequence. It needs to talked about. 

“She asked often, why she had survived when so many others [did not].” said Sydney’s family.

“The fact that students are often at a point in their lives where their academic future hinges on their success in school, and where that success can falter due to the mental distress of stepping back into a school where violence occurred, has detrimental aftershocks. ” The Daily Beast

Simply by definition, mass shootings are more likely to trigger difficulties with beliefs that most of us have, including that we live in a just world and that if we make good decisions, we’ll be safe.”American Psychological Association

“I don’t deserve to be alive.”

  “That should have been me.” 

These thoughts can plague a survivor’s mind. The tremendous amount of guilt also prevents them from discussing it with anyone.

One survivor summed it up like this, “It’s like, ‘I have guilt over not dying, this other person died, so why should I complain about feeling sad?’, he said.

Survivor’s guilt can also come from how they behaved or didn’t behave during the tragedy. “Maybe I rushed to get out of the way of the shooter!” or “I pushed past other kids to get away.” 

Survivor’s guilt is common in the face of extreme trauma and it absolutely can be treated.

If you or someone you know needs help, first reach out to a mental health professional or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text 741741 to reach the Crisis Text Line.  

Thanks to the HuffPost and Daily Beast and Pacific Standard for their attention to this nationwide crisis. 

Sandy Hook Promise’s powerful PSA.

Some have said that this PSA is difficult to watch.

And it is.

That’s the point.

This is a short glimpse of what our children and our teachers live in fear of, on a daily basis. It is happening in communities all across our country.

At first glance, the video created by the gun-violence prevention organization, Sandy Hook Promise, created in the wake of the ’12 CT school shooting seems like “just another back-to-school ad”.

The first student says gleefully into the camera, “This year my mom got me the perfect bag for back-to-school.”

In few seconds, it becomes VERY clear that something else is happening. Gunfire erupts behind the students as you see them running for their lives and using anything they can grab to protect themselves, like colored pencils and craft scissors. As one student takes off her new sock to create a tourniquet around her friend’s bloody leg who is in agonizing pain, the viewer has to be wincing, perhaps even looking away…..

And that’s not even the most, absolutely terrifying scene.

Crouched in a dark bathroom stall, a softy weeping student perches on the toilet (so the shooter cannot see her feet). She thanks her mom for her new cell phone. And then ..she texts to her mother, “I love you mom.” as she hears the bathroom door open and ominous footsteps get closer and closer.

The 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting left 20 first-graders and 6 educators dead.

How Design and Architecture will deter possible shooters.

From powerful audible notifications over loud speakers such as , to limiting the number of entrances/exits; much attention has been paid to making schools safer in the wake of mass shooting after mass shooting.

Design and architecture have always played a role in allowing public buildings and spaces to feel and BE safer.

There have been 150 mass shootings in the U.S. since January 1, 2018, and a shocking proportion of those took place in schools.

After the Oklahoma City bombing of 1995, designers placed bollards and concrete planters outside federal buildings to deter truck bombs, and installed glass able to withstand a blast in windows and doors.

“This entrance to a middle school, designed by PBK/IN2 Architecture, includes large glass windows, protective poles and an entrance clearly outlined in red.” – CNN

The need for bollards became increasingly apparent after the car attack in Charlottesville, VA, in 2017, when a car was deliberately driven into a crowd of people who had been peacefully protesting the Unite the Right rally, killing one and injuring 28.

At schools, it’s a challenge. There are many things to consider; visitor parking lots and bus dropoffs, and creating a place that is welcoming to students and that doesn’t resemble a prison. Placing bollards and/or strategically placed planters near the entrance soften the overall design and still prevent a threat from driving into the building. Numerous new schools are now built with a single, primary entrance. Every student, teacher and visitor must come through one entrance.

WINDOWS! Lots of windows! Why?

Windows allow administrators to see folks approaching the building. With lots of glass also comes the challenge of safety. As technology continues to evolve, so will design. Design will adapt, involving law enforcement during the process. Together, we’ll develop strategies that allow our children and teachers not only succeed, but to feel safe and secure in the process. Secur Shade was designed with this in mind.

Our system works in the event of a threat, alerting law enforcement and securing the building, teachers, and its students. But during everyday use, our shades diffuse sunlight with an optimum light-filtering design, that creates a warm, natural light environment for learning.

Contact us to learn more:

Discover the solution: Secur Shade.

“The push of a button, before the pull of a trigger. Protect your children and teachers with Secur Shade.”

To learn more about our life-saving technology:
Call: 802.338.9305
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