Skip to main content

Friday morning at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, teachers and school staff were the first first responders. Teachers got their students into bathrooms and closets, teachers kept their students calm, and some teachers lost their lives. Principal Dawn Hochsprung and school psychologist Mary Sherlach are described as having run toward the shooting as Adam Lanza forced his way into the school. First-grade teacher Victoria Soto was killed after hiding her students in a closet; fellow teachers Anne Marie Murphy and Lauren Rousseau and behavioral therapist Rachel D'Avino were also killed. But it wasn't just those who died who protected their students on Friday.

On this day, this was their job, to lock classrooms and cover windows and crowd children into bathrooms and closets and try to keep them from making noise. That's become part of the job of teaching, and they knew what to do. Not just the teachers—a custodian ran through the halls checking that classroom doors had been locked, and the entire school was alerted to the situation by a worker who turned on the intercom.

Kindergarten teacher Janet Vollmer read her students a story to keep them calm. But that had to mean keeping her own voice calm enough not to alarm them. How do you do that sheltered only by a locked classroom door and some bookcases?

Library clerk Maryann Jacob led students crawling across a floor to a storage space they could lock, then handed out paper and crayons.

First-grade teacher Kaitlin Roig, seen in the video above, got her students into a bathroom and later recounted how, as she worked to keep them quiet and unheard by the gunman,

I said to them 'I need you to know, that I love you all very much and that it's going to be okay,' 'cause I thought that was the last thing they were ever going to hear. I thought we were all going to die. You know, and I don't know if that's okay, you know, teachers ... But I wanted them to know someone loved them and I wanted that to be one of the last things they heard, not the gunfire in the hallway.
"I don't know if that's okay." Later the same day she hid in a bathroom believing she would die, Kaitlin Roig was wondering if she'd been unprofessional in her efforts to ensure that if her students died, they died knowing they were loved.

We hear so very much bad about teachers. In the past few years, teachers have been the subject of political attacks not just in Wisconsin and Michigan and Tennessee, but in Illinois, New York, Massachusetts, California. They're ineffective, they're overpaid, they're lazy, they don't care about kids—the claims are almost unbelievable if you try to apply them to any given teacher you know, but they've been used as a potent political weapon behind reams of bad policy.

Well, it's not like Sandy Hook Elementary School was chosen ahead of time as having especially brave or dedicated teachers and administrators and staff. It's not like there's a bravest school staff competition and Adam Lanza thought he'd give himself a real challenge by facing them. No, this what you find in schools—in a unionized school, by the way, with workers represented by the American Federation of Teachers, the American Federation of School Administrators, and the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers. You find Victoria Soto, Anne Marie Murphy, Lauren Rousseau, Rachel D'Avino, Dawn Hochsprung, Mary Sherlach. You find Janet Vollmer and Kaitlin Roig and all the other teachers and custodians and library clerks who put aside their own terror to make sure students were safe.

There will be a lot of lip service paid to the courage of Sandy Hook's staff. But the real measure of who's not just paying lip service will come when we see which of the politicians and so-called reformers who've been waging political attacks on teachers look at how teachers responded to a deadly physical attack, check themselves, and stop trying to demonize teachers in the push for corporate education policy.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 07:55 AM PST.

Also republished by In Support of Labor and Unions and Daily Kos.

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

Sharoney, Mark Sumner, Angie in WA State, tikkun, Joan McCarter, geverend, alicia, Wintermute, kpardue, eeff, dsb, devtob, DigDug, Bob Friend, geordie, Zinman, Pithy Cherub, Wayward Son, sngmama, lirtydies, kharma, scorpiorising, Teduardo, mrkvica, AZGoob, betson08, Anne from Vermont, Donna in Rome, isabel, lonespark, Marianne Benz, lyvwyr101, ExStr8, historys mysteries, marina, irate, grimjc, terrypinder, YucatanMan, boofdah, lotlizard, rb608, kerplunk, sillia, psyched, mightymouse, bently, Jim R, Over the Edge, Gorette, kestrel9000, raincrow, luckydog, zeke7237, sea note, cpresley, BentLiberal, bear83, BeninSC, Cronesense, xgz, Cat Whisperer, Deadicated Marxist, LSophia, gloriana, aravir, ethelthe, semioticjim, Nespolo, David Jarman, flumptytail, mystic, bearian, davehouck, gchaucer2, OIL GUY, GeorgeXVIII, MissyH, JayC, TruthFreedomKindness, also mom of 5, poligirl, Sixty Something, Involuntary Exile, brooklynbadboy, OutCarolineStreet, Sharon Wraight, TomFromNJ, tofumagoo, Cassandra Waites, luckylizard, Old Iowa Liberal, Dirtandiron, litoralis, Domestic Elf, juca, maryabein, Nannyberry, Larsstephens, BlueOak, Its the Supreme Court Stupid, FogCityJohn, flitedocnm, zaynabou, leftist vegetarian patriot, cai, Funkygal, SunsetMagnolia, cocinero, slice, Onomastic, annieli, redlum jak, Hill Jill, pb3550, jardin32, MaryinHammondsport, vahana, Mr MadAsHell, luvmykona, asterkitty, Sand Hill Crane, OhioNatureMom, satnam, SoCaliana, kevtobin, Late Spring, BarackStarObama, guavaboy, Fire bad tree pretty, wintergreen8694, desertrose712, Mentatmark, Apost8, fenway49, lorikristynmattjulie, David54, a2nite, AreDeutz, JGibson, mapamp, jts327, BlackNGreen, brook, GAladybug, Glen The Plumber, OldJackPine, artmanfromcanuckistan, history first, AmberShade, maf1029, madcitysailor, Ashes of Roses, Lensy, nomandates, koosah, jbob, JayRaye, aresea, LaraJones, Gary of Austin, OceanDiver, MethuenProgressive, WithHoney

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site