A Plea From a Teacher

Plea from a TeacherTwo days ago, a 12 year old boy walked into his middle school in Sparks, Nevada and shot two students, a teacher and then, himself.  We all ask the question every time this happens, “WHY?”  In fact, last night I was asked, “Why does this seem to be happening more now than before?”  If any of us had the answer to that question, we might also have some idea as to the solution.  However, the answer, and therefore, the solution, are multi-faceted, involving many reasons, people and agency’s.

Today, I received the following plea from one of the teachers who teaches across the hallway from where Mr. Landsberry taught before he was shot and killed.  Please read her plea and help her anyway you can.  Whether you are a teacher, a parent, or simply a member of the community, we  can each help in some way-lesson plans, letters, prayers…

Here is the letter she wrote to her girlfriend, who works in the same district in which I work.


Hey Diane – Yep, it was Sparks Middle School, my school.  It has been devastating.  Just trying to function through the nonsense of what actually happened.  At this point, I’m just overwhelmed with fear and grief.  Not sure how to move forward.  I’ve made a posting on my Facebook for everyone that has reached out, I’ll attach it below, if you’d like to help, I’d appreciate it.

Here is my Facebook posting, please help if you have time.

So, after a reflective conversation with my family, we discussed my options for Monday. What to “teach” on Monday. Mr. Landsberry and I were friends. He was my classroom neighbor. We walked in to each others classroom, messed with kids and laughed EVERY DAY. His room is right across the hall. How am I going to help my kids, our kids, attend school? My fingers are shaking as I type this, how can I really help them to move on?

My nieces, Elizabeth and Stacy had some really great ideas, one of which was to focus on heroes. Mr. Landsberry was a hero, truly. Not just on Monday, but so many hours, days and months before that. On Monday, he saved my kids. Our kids. Last week he probably saved someone else. He was a hero.

So, I’ve been working on lessons, researching heroes and I just can’t seem to process what I need to do. So I need help. All of my teacher friends, would you build me a lesson on heroes? I’ve looked at lyrics, articles, teen ink and found a plethora of ideas, but I’m not in lesson writing mode. Will you help me? Please write me a lesson to share with my staff, list what resources I need, what books I can read, what songs I need Stacy to download for me.  Help me move my kids forward, focusing on something that matters, our heroes. The people we see everyday that truly represent the courage, leadership and kindness of Mr. Landsberry.

I’m sure my colleagues are feeling the same way and thinking about what to do on Monday is daunting. We’re going to need help and I couldn’t think of a more resourceful population than my amazing teacher friends. Please help me, help my kids. Send your lessons to bhbarker@washoeschools.net

Send this message on to your teacher friends, we have a lot of work to do, and I need all hands on deck.

Love to all of you, I truly appreciate your support. B

Barbara Surritte-Barker, M.Ed., NBCT
Sparks Middle School


There you have it.  A touching letter from a teacher who survived physically, and now is trying to figure out how to survive emotionally, mentally and spiritually.  I’m sending my condolences to Mr. Landsberry’s family and friends, along with positive thoughts and energy to the two students in the hospital, to Barbara and to all those affected in the Sparks, Nevada community.  I don’t want to forget the troubled young boy’s family and friends, either.

Let us remember, our responsibility to one another is great as we strive to live peacefully in a troubled world,

Ms. Brown

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