Teachers do plenty of things for students that are not in their job descriptions. They bandage scraped knees, remember birthdays, give out their cell phone numbers, purchase classroom supplies, attend athletic events, and organize school festivals. But Victoria Soto, a 27-year-old 1st grade teacher in Newtown, Conn., went as far as a teacher could possibly go, putting her body between her students and a spray of bullets.
Soto was one of the 26 victims of the Dec. 14 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Her picture and the accounts of her heroics—in which she reportedly hid students in closets before the shooter entered her classroom and shot her—have spread widely and become central components of the nation’s mental and emotional understanding of what happened that day in Newtown.
And Soto wasn’t the only educator at Sandy Hook to sacrifice her life for her students. Dawn Lafferty Hochsprung, the principal, and Mary Sherlach, the school psychologist, ran into the hallway from a meeting upon hearing gunshots. Both were killed. Three other faculty members at the school were also gunned down as they tried to protect their students.
For teachers, the events of Dec. 14—and the actions of the Sandy Hook educators—have had an especially strong impact. They have ushered in a pre-holiday period of professional reflection, bringing both deep grief and a strong sense of resolve.
Rebecca Mieliwocki, the 2012 National Teacher of the year, noted with awe that the adults in the building went toward the shooter, not away from him. "No one ran from that gun. That principal, those teachers, and those aids tried to stop this man," she said. "We need to remember that the first responders were actually the teachers."Link to the full article here