Teachers, Heroes, and Sandy Hook

teach-for-americaEven days later, it is still hard to believe the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary really did happen.

Absolutely unbelievable.

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.


Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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7 thoughts on “Teachers, Heroes, and Sandy Hook

  1. Jim, thanks so much for the kind words about teachers. With some students they actually spend more time with their teacher than they do their parents.

    • You are welcome Jackie. Very good teachers (like yourself) really do amazing things to help and intervene on behalf of children.

  2. In June of 1972, I was a young Army pilot stationed in Korea. As I returned from a mission, the left drop tank (150 gallon external fuel tank) fell of the left wing due to a mechanical malfunction. With 50 gallons of jet fuel remaining in the tank, it plummeted 10,000 feet and exploded upon impact, killing a baby and severely burning a 5 y/o girl–covering 40 percent of her body with 2nd and 3rd degree burns.

    To this day, even though the accident wasn’t my fault, I grieve for all who were affected by this horror–especially the little girl who was burned. I pray for her. If she’s still living, she would be in her mid-40s now…her body scarred. I wonder about her. Does she have children of her own? Do her scars itch painfully when the weather changes? Did other children make fun of her, because of those scars, when she eventually returned to school? Is her heart scared, too?

    After Sandy Hook, a far worse tragedy than the one I experienced, I realized that for those affected–the families who lost their child or loved one, teachers, first responders–the pain and sorrow will never go away. They will live with their pain for the rest of their lives.

    Some measure of healing will occur for them as time passes, just as my own pain has moved into different levels of Grace. God has been tender and loving. And out of this horror, God will reveal his Grace in countless ways. But the pain and terror will always be there in one form or another. This I know first hand.

    Last Friday, after seeing the news break, I found myself crying out to God:
    “Please Lord, make it stop. Bring this world to an end. Bring sin, and all the horrific consequences it brings to an end. Come, Lord Jesus, come.”

    I’ve given up trying to understand why God has allowed this world to continue for as long as he has. Yet, in my own journey of Christian growth, I have come to trust him. For now, I can only pray…

    …Lord, have mercy.

    • Michael,

      I really appreciate you sharing this very difficult story. This must be incredibly difficult for you. I can not imagine what you must have done through immediately afterward and (as you noted), many years later.

      Just last night, I saw an interview of the funeral home director for the one funeral home in Newton where 11 of these children would have their funerals. As you say, this kind of thing will impact these people for many, many years.

      Thanks so much Michael. I’m honored that you shared such a deeply personal and difficult story here.