Last week, after seventeen people were killed in a school shooting in Parkland, Florida, Missy Dodds received several text messages from her former students—simple messages, expressing love and support on a difficult day. Dodds, who is forty-three, survived a school shooting in her classroom, in 2005. At the time, she was a teacher at Red Lake Senior High School, on the Red Lake Indian Reservation, in northern Minnesota.
“I taught mostly ninth-grade math, and I loved every second of it,” Dodds said earlier this week. She grew up in Arkansas, in a family of teachers; after earning her math degree, she started teaching in southeastern Arkansas, before moving to Minnesota, where she immediately took to her new neighbors. “I felt like I was back home,” she said. She was in her third year at Red Lake when one of her former students, a sixteen-year-old boy named Jeff Weise, shot and killed his grandfather and his grandfather’s girlfriend, at their home. He then drove to the school with two pistols and a shotgun and a bulletproof vest that he took from his grandfather, a tribal police officer. At the school, he killed five students, a teacher, and a security guard. After briefly exchanging gunfire with police, he killed himself.