For days to come, the nation will mourn, new information will be brought to light, and we will all grapple with the implications of this.
I continue to think about the heroic efforts of the school personnel. What about the heroic efforts of the school principal, Dawn Hochsprung, as she confronted the gunman. Or, the efforts of the custodian who risked his own life as he ran down a hall warning teachers of the gunman.
In particular, I think about two teachers.
Victoria Soto, age 27, hid her students in a closet while she stood between them and the door and died trying to shield them from the bullets.
Another teacher, Kaitilin Roig, barricaded herself and her 15 students in a tiny bathroom. She moved a bookcase across the door and locked it. She told ABC News that she said to the class, “There are bad guys out there now. We need to wait for the good guys.”
The stories of these people are inspiring but not surprising.
For many years, I have had a front row seat to witness the work and vocation of many schoolteachers. My grandmother, Iris Martin, taught 5th grade for many years in Oklahoma and Arkansas. My mother-in-law, Maye Coil, taught elementary school for a long time. My wife has taught elementary school children for almost 25 years. There are a number of other family members who have served as schoolteachers.
I am not surprised at the heroic actions of these teachers and other school personnel in Connecticut. Besides a child’s family, I don’t know anyone with any greater determination to protect, teach, and bless a child than his or her teacher.
The teachers in my family loved their children. It was obvious by the way they talked about their students. It was obvious in what they did to help and even intervene on behalf of their students.
Again and again, I have seen teachers give their time and energy to this calling. Teachers work many, many hours beyond those in the classroom. So many of them spend their own money purchasing materials for their room and their students. Teachers work with parents and their children. They do way more than what might actually happen during the classroom hours. Not only do they teach children but they also intervene in troubled situations. Teachers are the ones who encourage parents to take a child for an eye exam because she can’t see the whiteboard. Some children come to school and find that their teacher is the only person in their lives they can count on for a word of encouragement. Most teachers I’ve known deeply care for the welfare of their children, their education, and their overall well-being.
So is it surprising when a horrific day reveals that teachers have acted heroically?
It is inspiring but not unbelievable.