Eva and Irma: they believed in their students

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We know the names of the two teachers killed at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, last Tuesday were Eva Mireles and Irma Garcia.

We know that both these women were mothers of small children in that same school. We know that they had more than 40 years of combined teaching experience. We know that both of them loved to cook and dance and hike to scenic overlooks. We know that, on the morning of May 24, Eva and Irma applauded their students at an end-of-the-year awards ceremony.

We know that Eva and Irma believed each one of their students had a future.

We know these women taught math, science and history. They helped many bilingual students learn to read and love literature. They poured their time and energy into every child in their classroom. They strove to instill integrity, kindness and confidence in their students, lessons that would serve them as long as they lived.

We know that Eva and Irma died trying to save lives of their students.

We all know what it’s like to be in elementary school. We have been in a classroom, and for all the differences in schools and communities across the country, we have flipped open textbooks and counted on our fingers. We have raced around a playground and scarfed down tater-tots in the cafeteria. We have chalked on the blackboard and bubbled in the scantron sheets.

Eva and Irma kept a globe in their classroom, and they encouraged their students to spin it and put a little finger down on a faraway country.

We all know what it is like to dream.

We have all known teachers. We might not have liked particular ones. We might even have given certain ones a hard time.

We never know when our time will come to an end.

One of my teachers, Brian Doyle, wrote a tribute to the two teachers who died in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. Their names were Dawn and Mary. Lauding their courage in confronting that school shooter, Doyle wrote, “There is something in us beyond sense and reason that snarls at death and runs roaring at it to defend children.”

We know that Eva and Irma summoned the same snarling, roaring courage. While the police stood outside the building, Eva and Irma confronted the dead-eyed shooter and shielded their students with their bodies.

I would like to think that I would have done the same, but I don’t know for sure.

No one knows why 19 children and two teachers were murdered on May 24 at Robb Elementary School. We do not know why this blessed and brutal world is the way it is. Why do innocent people suffer? Why is there disease and famine and violence? Why do the fires of hatred and cruelty rage and burn?

We know Eva and Irma faced the fire on behalf of children. We know they are heroes. May we not forget.

Andrew Taylor-Troutman is the pastor of Chapel in the Pines Presbyterian Church. His collection of his columns for the Chatham News + Record is titled “Hope Matters: Churchless Sermons.”


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