Erica Rogers, a preschool teacher at a Baptist church in North Carolina, connects with other teachers to learn what they do to prepare for future emergencies.
With another tragic mass shooting in a Christian elementary school in the United States in March, conversations about preparing for emergencies are more important than ever. Erica Rogers, a preschool teacher at a Baptist church in North Carolina, says that this recent tragedy seemed to shake her, given the activities unfolding in the Tennessee capital and her everyday life.
"After learning about Monday's shooting in Nashville, it just kind of triggered me," Rogers, 28, told Good Morning America. The first-year teacher said that even though she has participated in multiple drills at school, she also wanted to post a TikTok video and connect with other teachers and see what they did to prepare for future emergencies.
In her TikTok video, which garnered over 1.2K views, Rogers explained that she carries backpack supplies like bottled water and candies. "I teach ages 3 to 4 so they're little guys. I can't necessarily just say 'Sit down and be quiet' and expect them to sit down and be quiet for a long period. So I have a bag of suckers," Rogers said in her video, in part. "It is just Dum Dum suckers and my thought is I would give them suckers over and over and over and over and over. I'm not worried about the nutritional value of a snack. It is something in their mouth. It will keep them occupied for a few minutes at least." Rogers, a mother of two, says these precautionary steps are worth it.
"It might sound like a lot that I have in my bag, but each little thing, if it buys me two minutes at a time, I mean, that's potentially 20 minutes that I can keep a kid entertained, if not longer, to keep them quiet, to keep them safe," Rogers added. Since her video, Rogers said she received many responses and plans from fellow teachers, like a mini first aid kit, for her backpack.
Also, Rogers hopes other teachers can find her video helpful in case of a school shooting. "The thing that's surprised me is the number of saves I've gotten on the video, people that want to save it, so they can go back and watch it again," she said. "I hope I'm never going to need anything out of that section of my bag, but if I do, I feel so much more prepared, the best I can," she added.
Rogers' video comes in a trying time of ongoing conversation among teachers on classroom safety and shooting precautions as gun violence continues to take place in the country. According to Gun Violence Archive, there have been 130 mass shootings in 2023, which defines a mass shooting as one in which four or more people are shot or killed, not including the shooter. In addition, there have been 26 shootings at elementary, middle or high schools in 2023. Rogers feels that conversations covering gun violence are of extreme importance. "I told people at work, this will not be the last shooting before the end of the school year, I guarantee you," she said.
"We have 12 weeks left. You will hear of another one somewhere, and that's terrifying. That is so scary because you never know where it's gonna be. Even if it's not you, it's gonna happen to someone else. And I don't know how to be OK with it," she said.
"The thing is, it's not just my classroom. We migrate, we go to the gym, we go to the playground, we go to the library, we go to other classrooms even and so it's more so instead of equipping the classroom, more things that I can equip my bag that can go with me," Rogers added. "Because again, we can go anywhere or we could also be walking down a hallway and then it's, 'Oh, we got to go in this closet.'"