Beginning every sentence with “Every teacher you know has,” Terrell, 35, wrote a heartbreaking post about how, in her experience, all educators harbor deep fears about a classroom shooting.
“Every teacher you know has thought about it. Every teacher you know has a plan for an active shooter," she wrote in part.
"Every teacher you know has weighed their point of fight or flight. Every teacher you know has walked their room looking for blind spots. Every teacher you know has passed their classroom to see what it would look like from the outside. Every teacher you know has wondered how fast they can lock a door."
“I’ve had all those thoughts in my head. But for some reason, in the moment that I found out about this tragedy, it all just kind of came out. It just flowed out,” Terrell told TODAY in a phone interview Wednesday. “The sadness, the grief and this pent up frustration, because this is not my first time hearing about something like this as a professional teacher.”
Terrell was a high school social studies teacher for 11 years. In November 2021, she decided to leave the profession behind to focus on her family, which includes her 5-year-old and 3-year-old sons.
You don’t grow up wanting to be a teacher and wanting to educate (and) agreeing to being a human shield. But when you’re in the classroom with these kids, something instinctual takes over and you will.”
Former teacher Angelle Terrell
As a student in Louisiana, she didn’t grow up with active shooter drills. Instead, they practiced fire, tornado and hurricane drills.
However, when she became a teacher shortly after the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting in 2012, active shooter drills became a part of her training.
“As my career as a teacher progressed, the active shooter drills became more refined, they became more technical," she said. "And I think that says something about what’s going on ... We need to do it and we’re happy to learn and perfect it like anything else, but it’s sad that we have to do that.”
In 2021, active shooter incidents surged by more than 50% from 2020 and nearly 97% from 2017, according to new FBI statistics released Monday.
Among the 21 victims in the Texas school shooting was teacher Irma Garcia, whose son told NBC News that police told him his mother died shielding children from the gunman.
“You don’t grow up wanting to be a teacher and wanting to educate and kind of fully agreeing to being a human shield,” Terrell said. “But when you’re in the classroom with these kids, something instinctual takes over and you will.”
As a mother to young children, Terrell said the idea of an active shooter at her sons’ school is “a thought that you have, but you tuck it away.”
As of Thursday, Terrell's Facebook post had been shared more than 5,000 times.
She said writing is a means of catharsis for her and a way to process what she is feeling. As she wrote the post, one sentence in particular affected her the most: “Every teacher you know has wondered if they could be in the way long enough to prevent damage."
She recalled giving an active shooter speech during her teaching days and telling her students, “They have to get through me first."
"And usually they’d laugh because I’m goofy and awkward. I’m the history teacher with all the memes," she said. “But I was serious. And you wonder, like, how long you have and how many kids you could save by just standing there.”
Following the massacre in Texas, she said she was struggling with questions about whether any real action would be taken to protect schools and children.
“I wish there could be some real reconciling with what needs to be done to make meaningful change because our kids just deserve so much better," she said.
"And that’s all I really want to say, they just deserve so much better from us.”