Teacher at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School: Teaching 'more important now than ever'

Description of the following video:

Katherine Posada video

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[Video: Just over a week after a shooting at the Florida high school where she teaches, Indiana University alumna Katherine Posada spoke to a group of IU students, staff, faculty and the media about the experience and how it had reaffirmed her belief in the importance of her chosen profession.]

Katherine speaks: I was in my classroom. It was the last period of the day. And the fire alarm went off. My students and I went through the evacuation procedure. We were outside the school. People started shouting it’s a code red. My first thought was that it was a code red drill. It really never entered my mind that it was real.

So, we went back into the classroom. We huddled in the corner of the room that's not visible from the door. We knew something was actually happening when one of my students got phone call from his sister who was in the building where shooting was happening.

I've always known our students are amazing, but their response to this and the way that they have stepped up is just incredible.

 

[Video: Still images show Katherine talking with IU students. In one photo, she hugs an attendee]

 

Katherine speaks: And they are an inspiration to all of us, and we are so proud of them, to know that they feel empowered enough to go out there and be advocates for the issues that they feel are important and try to make sure this never happens again.

 

[Video: A still image shows Katherine hugging a student]

 

 

Katherine speaks: This has shown me that teaching is more important than ever. Going into these classrooms and preparing them to advocate for themselves, preparing them to be able to stand up for themselves and fight for what they believe in and fight for what is right, it is so worth it.

The moments you have with students in the classroom but then after they leave you and they go out into the world, and then you hear from them and they say, you know, your class, or this thing that you said, I think about that all the time and it changed the way I look at the world.

You know that you are changing lives, and you are preparing kids to lead and to do the things that they're going to need to do in the world.

[Video: A still photo shows Katherine speaking to the crowd]

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Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School teacher Katherine Posada and her 10th-grade English students huddled inside a locked classroom, trying not to panic as they received calls and text messages asking about the mass shooting that was happening somewhere in their school.

"I kept telling them, 'We're safe, we're safe. You're here and you're going to be OK,'" she said.

They were, but some of their fellow students and teachers were not. Fourteen students, a teacher, a coach and an athletic director died Feb. 14 at the Parkland, Florida, high school in one of the deadliest school shooting incidents in U.S. history.

Just over a week later, Posada, an Indiana University alumna, spoke about the experience and how it had reaffirmed her belief in the importance of her chosen profession.

"Going into these classrooms and preparing these kids for this potentially terrifying and dangerous world they're going to go out into -- preparing them to advocate for themselves, to stand up for themselves and to fight for what they believe in -- is more important now than ever," she said.

Posada didn't set out to be a teacher. She graduated from IU Bloomington in 2003 with a bachelor's degree in English, worked in retail, got married and had children. Looking for a job that would match her children's schedules, she started substitute teaching and fell in love with it. She returned to school to earn a master's degree and made teaching her profession.

She teaches language arts at Marjory Stoneman Douglas, a school with about 3,300 students.Her husband teaches history and sociology at the school. An aunt and cousin also teach at the school, and her sister-in-law is a student there. None were injured in the attack.

IU alumna Katherine Posada, an English teacher at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, speaks to IU School of Education students on Feb. 23. She survived a mass shooting at the Parkland, Florida, school where 17 people were killed. Photos by James Brosher, IU Communications

Teachers were back at the school this week, and students will return for half days Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, then resume full days next week.

"People have asked me, 'Are you going back?'" Posada said. "It never for one minute crossed my mind not to go back. I can't imagine not being there for my students when they go back. They need people who support them and have a relationship with them, and they need that now more than ever."

At IU, she spoke Friday at the School of Education and Saturday at Whittenberger Auditorium. Her advice to prospective teachers was positive and passionate, despite the horror she and her colleagues and students endured.

"It is difficult, and it can potentially be dangerous," she said. "But it is so worth it. The moments you have with students in the classroom -- and when they leave and go out into the world and you hear from them again -- you know you are changing lives. You are preparing kids to be adults and to lead and do the things they need to do in the world."

Immediately after the shootings, many students at the high school began advocating for gun control and other policies to keep students safe. Posada said the issue of school shootings is complex and will be hard to address. But she has deep faith in her students and their ability to change the world.

"I've always known our students are amazing," she said. "But their response to this and the way they've stepped up is just incredible. They are an inspiration to all of us. We are so proud of them, to know that they feel empowered enough to go out there and be advocates for the issues they feel are important and try to make sure this never happens again."