DE LEON FALLS, FLORIDA — When she began teaching at De Leon Falls High School in the early 1990’s, Joyce Zagby happily joined the teacher’s union in her state.
Joyce says she always felt it was her lifelong calling to be a union thug, because her mother and father were both union thugs. Her mother taught middle school science and her father taught high school English. When she received her union card, she proudly made a copy and framed it. Joyce says she “truly loves” being in a union, and considers it an honor and privilege to be a “lazy, no good union thug” while shaping young minds for the future.
“I get up in the morning, go to work, and I am able to prepare the next generation of humans for the real world they will shape and control,” Zagby said. “All while having the security of a collectively bargained labor agreement, which we all know is so very thuggish of me.”
When she started teaching, Ms. Zagby says the last thing she worried about were mass shootings. She remembers vividly the day of the Columbine massacre in 1999, and how it forever changed her perceptions of the work she does. Joyce says, however, that it wasn’t until a few years after Columbine, when the school shootings seemed to be increasing, that she full accepted what teaching, especially in such a pro-gun state like Florida, might put her at risk for.
“I teach, because I feel like I was born to teach. I’m grateful my natural tendencies for thuggish behavior like grading papers and giving students a list of classic American literature to read from dovetailed so nicely into a career in teaching,” Zagby says. “But more and more I’ve had to really face and come to grips with the fact that some day, somebody could come storming into my class with a gun, intent on killing everyone they can.”
Zagby says she decided long ago that she would not sit back and do nothing if a gunman happened to be threatening the lives of her students. If she were to be so unlucky as to be at the scene of a school shooting, which she says she realizes the odds of that happening are increasing daily, she would do something to protect the kids. Even if that something means throwing her “shifty, useless, union thug ass” in the line of fire.
“Increasingly, my fellow union thugs and I have had to grapple with the reality that America is a country that cannot or will not be bothered to take a more nuanced approach to guns,” Joyce tells us. “So at some point, as a teacher and union heavy, you have to decide if you could lay down your life for the kids in your classroom. I decided I could and would, because they are the ones who are important. They are the ones who will be the teachers of tomorrow. I’d take several rapidly fired, high-velocity bullets for those kids.”
Ms. Zagby says that despite all this, she still understands why some people just don’t and will never trust her.
“I get it, every day I get up, go to a building, and try to teach their kids to be better, more educated people,” Zagby said. “And I’m willing to throw down my life to save their kids, which is more and more becoming an actual thing we teachers have to do deal with. But we do all that while working under a collective bargaining agreement, so clearly we’re also all minions of Communist Satan, who is like regular Satan, but you know, redder and more communist.”