Marissa Schimmoeller, a ninth and tenth grade English teacher at Delphos Jefferson High School in Delphos, Ohio, was dreading having to face her students the day after the Parkland, Florida, school shooting. Many teachers across the country shared the same worries of addressing an active shooter plan, but for Schimmoeller, who is wheelchair-bound due to cerebral palsy, there were additional concerns.
Her students, however, quickly quelled any of their teacher’s fears about being able to protect them with one simple message: “If anything happens, we are going to carry you,” they told her.
Schimmoeller shared the inspiring conversation she had with her students on Facebook, which has now gone wildly viral.
“Today was really hard for me. Today was the first time I had to teach the day after a mass school shooting. I dreaded facing my students this morning, and as the first students walked in, I began to feel the anxiety pooling in my stomach. I was dreading one, specific question. Soon after class began, a freshman asked me the question I had been dreading since I had heard about the tragedy in Florida.
‘Mrs. Schimmoeller,’ she asked. ‘What will we do if a shooter comes in your room?’
My stomach sank. I launched into my pre-planned speech about our plan of action. Then, I knew I had to say the harder part: ‘I want you to know that I care deeply about each and every one of you and that I will do everything I can to protect you. But – being in a wheelchair, I will not be able to protect you the way an able-bodied teacher will. And if there is a chance for you to escape, I want you to go. Do not worry about me. Your safety is my number one priority.’
Slowly, quietly, as the words I had said sunk in, another student raised their hand. She said, ‘Mrs. Schimmoeller, we already talked about it. If anything happens, we are going to carry you.’
I lost it. With tears in my eyes as I type this, I want my friends and family to know that I understand that it is hard to find the good in the world, especially after a tragedy like the one that we have watched unfold, but there is good. True goodness. It was found in the hearts of my students today.”
The touching interaction gained so much attention on social media, the school released an update on how “thankful” Schimmoeller was “for all the kind comments,” adding she is “deeply moved by the outpouring of support.”
This is the 24-year-old’s first year of teaching. She told TODAY Parents that her students mean “everything” to her.
“They are the reason I went into teaching. They are the reason I get out of bed to teach every day,” Schimmoeller said. “I think building positive relationships with students is one of the most, if not the most, important thing a teacher can do for their students.”
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