Newtown Kindergarten, First-Grade Teacher’s Stories Reveal Heroism
The heroes of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting were, everyone agrees, the teachers, many of whom gave their lives in efforts to protect their students. The story of kindergarten teacher Janet Vollmer and first-grade teacher Kristen Roig, who survived the attacks, are among the inspiring stories. From CNN:
Kindergarten teacher Janet Vollmer knows at least half of the killed children.
“Ten of them were in my class last year,” she told CNN’s Anderson Cooper on Sunday. “It’s tough. It’s tough.”
When the shots rang out, Vollmer locked her classroom door, covered the windows, including the one in the door, then took the children into a nook between bookcases and a wall.
She read them a story to keep them calm.
“They kept saying ‘How come we’re here for so long?’ ‘Well, it will be a little longer.’ ” she answered. “When they’re 5, you do whatever you can to keep them safe and keep them calm.”
“We’re going to be safe,” Vollmer told them, “because we’re sitting over here and we’re all together.”
First-grade teacher Kristen Roig herded her students into a bathroom, locked the door and told them not to make a peep.
They got impatient, antsy, wanted someone to go out and see what was happening. No, she told them. She was afraid they would all die.
“If they started crying, I would take their face and tell them, ‘It’s going to be OK.’ I wanted that to be the last thing they heard,” she said, “not the gunfire in the hall.”
The wait dragged on, Vollmer said.
“Maybe it was 20 minutes, a half-hour; I’m not sure.”
Police knocked at the door to take them all out. They instructed her to have the schoolchildren hold hands and close their eyes.
“At 5, it’s not so easy to close your eyes and walk,” Vollmer said. “So I had them look toward the wall.” They all had to be brave.
For more on Parents.com about the Sandy Hook Tragedy, visit the following:
- Processing the Newtown School Shooting as a Parent
- The Sandy Hook Tragedy: Dealing with Your Own Anxiety as a Parent
- 5 Helpful Resources for Talking to Kids About Tragedies
- Preventing Another School Shooting: What We Should (And Shouldn’t) Be Doing