Friday I got a call from Scott letting me know that Andrew had sent him a text message. Shots fired at school, but he was ok. My heart stopped. Should I jump in my car and go get him?
Instantly, I hopped on every website I could to search for more information, while simultaneously calling and texting other parents to make sure they knew what was going on. Ironically, I had the radio on and I cannot remember hearing a report, but I’m sure I did!
Facebook was swamped with information. Parents, relatives, friends, news reporters, and active community members were all posting the news. It was a huge relief that the students had their cell phones with them and could send messages out to loved ones about what was happening.
The school uses an automated phone calling system to spread news, so I started to receive calls from that with an update every so often. The message was consistent. Everyone was ok. The school was being evacuated. Everyone was ok.
As I watched the day unravel on Facebook and Twitter, I grappled with what the right thing to do was. It is my belief that we should always lead by example. What did I want those that follow me to do?
Looking back, I can see where I applied Emotional Intelligence during an extremely scary and upsetting situation. I want those I lead to exercise their Emotional Intelligence as often as they can. This is how my Friday went.
After the initial fear of Andrew and the others at the school not being safe, I had to separate my emotions from the facts. Yes, it’s scary, frustrating, and upsetting to find out someone had a gun at the school, but the fact was everyone was ok. Everyone was ok.
As rattling as it was it did not help me to sit around and blame others for letting this happen. It did happen. It was handled to the best of everyone’s abilities. It was up to me to begin the coping and healing process in my family and be supportive to others affected by it.
Again, it’s easy to blame others for…well anything that happened that day. To show empathy, I needed to consider other facts. Some were frustrated about how long it took to get all the students home. I was impressed at how thorough the plan was. Honestly, I had no idea that they practiced a Code Red on a regular basis for a situation just like this. It was impressive to me how well the NCHS and police staff followed the plan.
Now what? After things settled down on Friday, we had to figure out what to do. My family and I kept each other in the loop every step of the way. Schedules changed, more information came out about the situation, and our emotions were frazzled. We made sure to talk openly about what was going on and how it made us feel. Knowing that keeping those thoughts, fears, and frustrations bottled up could lead to more problems down the road for our family.
Emotional Intelligence is a journey that takes a lot of practice. The amazing thing I noticed Friday was that since I have been practicing and teaching it more and more, the easier such a tragic situation became. I urge you to do the same in your lives whether it is at work, or at home. You will see the benefits when you least expect it!
We were extremely lucky Friday. I hope everyone connected to Normal Community High School can heal quickly and be stronger for it.