Updated: Jun 7
Freshman Theresa Tomasicchio has always wanted to become an elementary school teacher, even calling it her life’s purpose.
But Monday morning’s shooting at a Green Hills private Christian school shook her to her core.
“This was my last straw,” she said. “This is the work I was called to, but it’s just that I don’t know if being in the classroom is necessarily my path anymore.”
A 28-year-old woman, carrying two assault rifles and a handgun, shot and killed three students and three faculty members at the Covenant School, less than three miles away from Belmont’s campus on Monday morning.
“You almost associate that as a private Christian school it’d be more safe. It’s in such a nice, safe area. It’s the last place I felt like I could teach and be safe, but now that doesn’t exist anymore,” Tomasicchio said.
For education major Emma Sadler, the shooting broke her heart and also made her question her career choice.
“Do I want to carry that responsibility of 20 children?” Sadler said. “You don’t want to live in fear, but at this point you have to.”
The Covenant School is one of several schools that Belmont’s education department partners with.
“We go in classrooms and observe and that’s one of the schools that we can observe at,” said Sadler.
“For it to be 10, 15 minutes away, it’s a lot.”
Both Sadler and Tomasicchio said their greatest concern was the safety of any child in their classroom.
“What are you going to do when you have 20 6-year-olds, and there’s an active shooter in your school?” Tomasicchio questioned.
“How do you calm them? How do you call their parents and have 6-year-olds in a classroom and have them be quiet when they don’t even know what’s going on,” she asked.
Schools across the country have implemented active shooter drills into their schools, and Covenant was no different.
Belmont also trains future teachers on what to do in a crisis situation.
“In the education department it’s not just like, ‘Oh, let's count,’ we have to learn how to deal with stuff like this,” Tomasicchio said.
But she worries that the recent school shootings may cause others to leave the field.
“There’s a very big decline in teachers. Suddenly, people are going to look up and we’re going to be gone and they’re going to wonder what happened,” Tomasicchio said. “It’s just the years upon years of ignoring it.”
Sadler said part of the issue lies out of the classroom and with legislators.
“If you look at what’s trending in the news now, it’s TikTok and it’s drag queens,” she said.
The Tennessee legislature is “more worried about getting rid of drag queens for children’s sake, but children are getting shot,” she said.
At the beginning of this month, Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee signed a bill criminalizing drag in public places because the legislature deemed it unsafe for children.
Ironically, two months ago, Republican lawmaker Chris Todd, proposed a bill to lower the age that Tennessee citizens can own a gun without a permit from 21 to 18.
Belmont sophomore Jaymey Hedberg said Tennessee needs to re-open the conversations about gun control, but now is not the time.
“We need to wake up and these things shouldn’t keep happening, but I also think that the family and intimacy need to come first,” Hedberg said.
“The first thing that needs to happen is just arms surrounding the families before we talk about arms of any other kind.”
This article was written by Gracie Anderson