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Returning To Classrooms Difficult For North Texas Teachers

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(credit: KTVT/KTXA) Joel Thomas
Joel is an Emmy Award winning journalist with more than 15 year...
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(credit: CBS 11 News)

(credit: CBS 11 News)

ARLINGTON (CBS 11 NEWS) – Teachers returning to classrooms across North Texas Monday were flooded with memories of the terrifying school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut.

“Seeing their faces, the kindergarteners and first graders and just imagining the tragedy, it’s kind of tough,” said Arlington elementary school teacher Demetria Terrell who teaches at Hale Elementary.

“When I saw a class of first graders lining up for the cafeteria today and seeing once again, this is how small they are —  this is them,” said Chris McAllister, a 4th grade teacher at Hale.

The ordinary sights and sounds in Arlington’s Hale Elementary have an extraordinary effect on teachers today.

They impress upon teachers just how terrible those deadly few minutes in Connecticut must have been.

“The more I thought about it, the more I read about it, the more I thought about my own students,” said Hale teacher Sarah McMurrough.   “And it really hit home.”

The thought of ‘What if it happens here?’ keeps teachers on edge.  They took extra precautions in the classrooms.

“That door closes, I know its locked,” McAllister said of his classroom door.  “I don’t even have to think or second guess.  I put a piece of paper over my window that normally I just put to the side.”

The paper blocks enough of the view of the classroom so teachers can huddle students in a corner out of sight from the hallway if they need to.

Most of us can put our minds into our jobs and forget about the horrible images from Newtown.  But here, everywhere they look they have to think about the killings, the dead children and school staff.

“Those feelings are right under the surface.  So we’re really going to have to take care of each other for a while,” McAllister said.

The teachers at Hale say the children have hardly talked about the massacre.

But away from the children, the teachers do talk about it.  It’s how they’re coping with the tragedy.

“The teachers were up and down the hall, talking to one another, hugging one another and just praying for these kids,” Terrell said. “Some of the teachers came together in the cafeteria to talk about the situation.  Us, we here at Lynn Hale, we are one big family. Together, I think we’ll pull through this.”

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