top of page

When You Especially Need A Hug - Beslan School Shooting

“Ho-ho-ho,” I scream at the top of my lungs yesterday, as I enter my classroom and try to drown out my own soundtrack, “Jingle Bells” tune on my phone. I am decked out in a full Santa suit, hat and white beard. My entrance is met with a stunned silence, followed by laughter, and finally applause. After running a Santa 5K over the weekend, I figured I’d put a smile on the face of my “kids”, ages 18 to 65, as they write their final exam.

In my second year of university, my statistics teacher brought in a plush toy to class. She introduced it as “Birdie”, the class mascot. Whenever someone asked a question, they would get an approving squeak from Birdie. We hated Birdie. It was SO lame. Almost a decade later, it sticks out in my memory.

My calculus teacher came to class on Halloween, wearing pajamas with glowing in the dark flying pigs. She had drawn-on freckles and pig tails, and held a huge teddy bear. I do not remember a word from that lecture. I think we talked about limits…

Today, I realize that I’m that strange teacher. I dress as a pirate for Halloween, and as Santa for Christmas. I give my students rap songs lyrics for ethical dilemma analyses. I bring robots to class.

I throw the end-of-semester healthy potluck, and cook Indian dhal that earns praise from students, hailing from India and elsewhere. I jump up and down, pace the classroom, gesticulate wildly, and generally, make a fool out of myself.

I also take my students through campus shooter safety drills. Close the doors, huddle in the corner. Keep quiet.

Sometimes, ignorance IS bliss. But it’s everywhere… Connecticut school shooting… 27 dead bodies, 20 of them children between the ages of 5 and 10…

In 2004, I appeared in my old school in Russia on September 1st , 7 years after immigrating to Canada, and to a complete and utter shock of my English teacher. She said it was a good surprise…

September 1st is Knowledge Day in Russia, the day when the school year starts all over the country, the day marked with yet another incoming class of first graders, flowers and celebratory assembly.

At exactly the same time few thousand kilometers to the west, another Russian school was taken hostage. Three days later, it left at least 386 dead, and over 700 injured, and has been labelled the deadliest school massacre.

Fifteen years prior, the worst school shooting in Canadian history takes place when a twenty-five-year old man kills 14 women at the University of Montreal.

Fast forward to December 14, 2012… I designate it “hug-a-child, hug-a-teacher day”…

Now if you will excuse me, I’m off to collect my hugs…

Fa la la la la, la-la-la-la…

Hugs, SOLO

Recent Posts

See All

“Are you going to bed?” That’s Italian. He is holding the baby, and trying to usher me into the bedroom to get some sleep. It’s 8.30pm – beginning of shift one, and my turn to check out. If all goes w

bottom of page