Ray Posada, a 2013 Belmont alumnus and teacher at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School (MSD), visited Belmont’s campus this week to share his experiences and insights with students. Initially planning to encourage education majors with a message about remaining in their chosen career path, Posada found himself sharing his story with students from across campus, reminding them to support teachers across the company in their classroom endeavors.
Having been at MSD for 3 years, Posada teaches both world history and sociology to sophomores, juniors and seniors. On Valentine’s Day of this year, when MSD became the sight of a mass shooting, Posada was sitting alone in a copy room located in a separate part of campus. In the dark, waiting for information, Posada said he began texting the 4 members of his family who also spend their days on the high school’s campus. His wife, aunt and cousin are teachers – his younger sister is a junior at MSD. “To say Stoneman Douglas is my home is so true,” Posada said. “Half of my family was there.”
When the door to the copy room was opened by an armed SWAT team and Posada was able to leave the building, he walked nearly a mile to the staging area where he found his wife. Immediately, Posada said he began wondering whether he should go back to the classroom given the threat he was feeling. “I didn’t get into teaching to be shot at,” he said. “I didn’t get into teaching so that I could come back to the class and see an empty desk.” But after attending MSD’s vigil the next day and seeing one of his students, he realized he didn’t have a choice.
“I looked in his eyes, and I could see that behind the tears and the pain, there was so much he didn’t understand,” Posada said. ‘I had no choice, I had to go back to school. I had to be there. He needed me. My life was incomplete without my students.”
Though he doesn’t see himself as an activist, Posada said he is so proud of the students who have moved into that role. He’s happy to support them as they use their voices for change. “They’re passionate,” he said. “We know that when they have a goal in mind, when they have a mission, they go head-long. It makes me proud to see such a dedicated, responsive group.”
Speaking to a room full of more than 100 students, Posada emphasized the importance of good teachers. “Teach. We need you,” he said. “The solution to these problems is teachers. We need you to not be afraid to step into a classroom, because it’s totally worth it.”