Ann Farabee: Who is in charge?

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 1, 2024

By Ann Farabee

What? Why had no one told us there would be a drill today?

Usually, as a teacher, I was made aware of a fire drill ahead of time.

I knew immediately that something felt different. My students and I would not be lining up and marching out of the building silently to take our fire drill position in line on the playground. Instead, this drill signal was the one informing us that we were to take our students into our classroom closet and wait together until further notice.

My students stared at me for a brief second before we all  began to walk that direction. We had practiced it, but had never put it into practice.

My 24 students silently moved to pack themselves tightly in that small space, and the 25th person was me. None of us could see our hand in front of our face. So we stood in the darkness. My position was to stand facing the closet door. In other words, if there was a shooter and the door opened, I would be shot first. As a teacher, I was always prepared for that, because I knew that my role would be to protect my students.

In the darkness, I was praying silently as we held to each other. However, it was different from previous drills in my teaching career. Fire drills we were used to. Following those instructions was simple as we lined up and marched out of the building together silently, while making sure I had all of my students with me.

This drill was different. After an eternity, the closet door creaked open, leaving a crack of light visible in our dark space. There stood a police officer, looking serious and comforting. As his eyes met mine, he asked, “Who is in charge?” Without hesitation, I responded, “I am in charge. I am Mrs. Farabee, and my 24 students are accounted for.”

I realized that I would have done anything to keep them safe — including sacrificing my own life. A classroom of students and their teacher become a family.

I would not have had it any other way.

Honestly, even though once we knew we were safe, that day did not return to normal at all.

Why accept normal when one feels greater-than-normal love for each other?

For a teacher, the classroom and their students are a home and a family every day.

As I stood in that closet with my 24 surrounding me, I knew. I would have given my life for them in a second.

After waiting for what seemed like an eternity, an announcement was made that we could go back to our normal schedule. Trust me. Nothing was going to feel normal that day.

However, I acted as if it had just been a drill and we were supposed to get right back to work.

I found out later that a fast food restaurant that was within a couple of blocks of our school had been robbed and that the robber had headed the direction of our school on foot. So, we went into lockdown. It gripped my heart with a plethora of emotions.

Those words still ring in my heart today, “Who is in charge?”

I knew the truth all along — Fear not, for I am with thee. (Isaiah 41:10)

Ann Farabee is a teacher, writer and speaker. Contact her at or

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