‘We’re trying to take on the entire world’: Ky. teachers react to the heartbreaking classroom shooting in Va. last week

Police say as of Monday, the first-grade teacher is in stable condition

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – A teacher in Virginia was shot by her 6-year-old student last week. Police said Friday afternoon, Abby Zwerner was intentionally shot by a student during an altercation at Richneck Elementary School in Newport News.

Investigators say the bullet went through Zwerner’s hand and into her chest and her injuries were life-threatening but as of Monday, Zwerner is in stable condition. Officers say the 6-year-old is being held until a judge determines the next steps.

Some Central Kentucky teachers say the incident only adds to the already-high levels of anxiety felt by many in the classroom.

“We’re seeing the next generation of society come up and so we’re really kind of seeing all of society’s issues in a microcosm,” says Fayette County Public Schools high school teacher Brooke Jackson. “We’re trying to take on quite literally the entire world and try to fix all of society’s issues.”

Gun violence is becoming increasingly common in our society and sadly, more common in schools. But some teachers say while the anxiety is always in the back of their mind for an outside person to come in and shoot, it’s entirely different to imagine one of your own students pulling a gun on you, let alone one that’s just 6 years old.

“I almost think you have to compartmentalize to be able to go to your job. I have to see that as someone else and this as us, and I don’t know that that’s healthy either but it’s the only way I can go into my job,” says Jackson.

“Even when I started teaching, there was a teacher in Lousiville, Kindergarten student pulled a knife on her so I mean you can, a 5 or 6-year-old kid can kill you just as much as a 55/56-year-old guy,” says FCPS high school teacher Mickey Campbell. “So, it’s real but it’s scary that it’s just so prevalent.”

FCPS has measures to protect teachers and students like metal detectors, School Resource Officers patrolling and a 10-step safety plan.

“If you want to sneak something in, if you want to bad enough, this isn’t the airport,” says Campbell. “We need the help of parents, we need the help of community members, we need the help of legislators. There is no simple solution. It’s a complex problem and it’s going to take a group effort to fix that problem.”

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