The sixth annual National Train a Teacher Day (NTATD) takes place on Saturday, June 17th, 2023. Launched the day after the horrific murders at Florida’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in 2018, NTATD provides teachers and staff with choices in the event of a violent incursion at their school.
A Clear Mission
National Train a Teacher Day is not a political movement. Its mission is nothing more nor less than protecting children. As NTATD’s website says, “the protection and security of our children is NOT a ‘gun’ debate.” They do say that “educating and empowering teachers, staff, and admin will help us realize that mission and perhaps, as an added bonus, create informed advocates that can influence legislators and school boards in changing policies and laws.”
NTATD states, up front, that they are not advocating an armed teacher program. The goal is to train those who wish to have a choice, whether that be with a firearm or non-lethal form of self-defense. The program offers training in situational awareness, medical skills, unarmed defense, and deterrence techniques as well as firearms skills.
“We Need to Do Something”
After seeing the tragic events in Florida, firearms instructor Grant Gallagher called his friend Klint Macro that very day. “We need to do something,” said Gallagher, “the entire firearms training community needs to do something. Something that educates and endorses exercising our rights instead of restricting them. Perhaps a ‘National Train a Teacher Day,’ what do you think?”
Macro was immediately on board. The website domain was secured within the hour and the site itself launched the next day. The inaugural National Train a Teacher Day was held later that year. The event has grown every year since, with more certified trainers signing on to donate their time and skills.
A Real Problem
I was a public high school teacher for 13 years. I remember hearing about the 1999 Columbine murders while in my classroom. The school system didn’t know how to react. We were told to watch students more carefully and the administration banned everyone from wearing trench coats in the building. But that was it, and the measures, such as they were, soon faded.
I was at another school when a psychopath murdered 32 people at Virginia Tech in 2007. Once again, I was in my classroom. That one really hit home, as I grew up near the university. My brother and many friends attended school there. I had several friends who worked there at the time. An acquaintance responded to the incident as a deputy sheriff.
Our administration called a faculty meeting after school to talk about it. We heard the same stuff we’d heard before, there and in other places. Increased awareness, but nothing concrete. I pointed out that my classroom door, and all the others, had serious design flaws. The doors could only be locked from the outside using a key. That gave us a choice. We could keep our doors locked all the time, which is very impractical and constantly disrupts class as people come in and out. Or we could leave the doors unlocked and, in the event of trouble, step out into the hallway, lock the door with the key, and step back inside. Furthermore, the doors opened outward into the hall, so barricading them from inside was impossible, and locking them required us to go into the hall.
The situation was even more potentially dangerous because the school was tiny. It was in one of those very small Texas towns that you can drive through in about two minutes. I preferred working at smaller schools for many reasons, but if something bad went down, we were all vulnerable. The building had one hallway. Every classroom opened onto it. Emerging from our rooms to lock the doors if we heard gunfire would almost certainly put every teacher in the line of fire.
We were told to do the best we could. I countered by asking the school to replace, or at least upgrade, the doors so they would be more secure. Several other teachers supported me, calling for different locks and for the doors themselves to be remounted so they opened inward. We were told they would look into it. I taught at that school for two more years. Nothing was ever done. I like to think I, and every other teacher, would have stepped into that hallway to lock the classroom door, thereby at least partially protecting our kids. I’m glad I never had to find out.
As noted, NTATD gives teachers and staff a choice. The program features classroom time focusing on situational awareness, first aid, understanding mass shooter events, and crisis management. Those of us who regularly carry firearms understand the importance of mindset. NTATD begins the mindset process. I say process because mindset is ever-evolving with confidence, competence, and changing scenarios.
The program also trains participants in defensive firearms use, pepper spray, and TASER systems. Some school systems have armed teacher programs, but the majority do not and probably never will. Firearms skills are great, but the other training can be used by almost anyone, no matter where they work.
A Nationwide Program
NTATD offers classes nationwide. All classes are conducted by vetted, certified instructors. NTATD notes that not all skills are taught at every class location. Interested participants should check with the instructor beforehand for that information. Each instructor, organized by state, is listed on the NTATD website. The site also includes training videos and a downloadable School Security Checklist compiled by Michael Martin of the United States Concealed Carry Association (USCCA).
National Train a Teacher Day is sponsored by USCCA and Sabre Red, who provide instructors and materials for NTATD classes. The program also partners with prominent organizations like The DC Project, A Girl & A Gun, and The Armed Women of America.
Find out more about National Train a Teacher Day and find a class near you at nationaltrainateacherday.com.