Victoria Soto, age 27, apparently died yesterday while trying to get her students into a safer spot in their classroom at Sandy Hook. She stood between the murderer and her students, and he killed her....given the kind of person who chooses to remain in the profession despite all the sacrifice and opprobrium because they want to help kids, Soto’s tragic sacrifice isn’t in the least surprising. It’s what teachers do.
The tribute below has expressed the thoughts of so many people - including myself - that I am re-posting here. My heart is torn in pieces over this senseless killing, and I hope that people throughout America can now throw politics out, and deal with getting those individuals in pain and distress the help that they need before something like this happens again.
Pictures of many of the shooting victims.
Thank you, teachers
Education by Chris Clarke
Victoria Soto, age 27, apparently died yesterday while trying to get her students into a safer spot in their classroom at Sandy Hook. She stood between the murderer and her students, and he killed her.
This is Soto right here.
(Updated to add: Andrew Revkin shares more on Soto's colleagues Kaitlin Roig and Maryrose Kristopik: "Kaitlin Roig locked her students in the bathroom and kept them safe, while Victoria Soto was trying to do the same when she came face-to-face with the gunman and was shot, execution style. Maryrose Kristopik barricaded her music students in a closet, while the gun man fought to get in." Roig and Kristopik survived, thankfully.)
I spent a little time thinking about Soto and her colleagues this morning. I’ve known quite a few grade school teachers over the years. Until 2009, I was married to one. And I realized as I was thinking about Soto that there’s not a single one of those grade school teachers I’ve known, my ex- emphatically included, who I could imagine doing anything but jumping between the gunman and his or her students.
I know that’s an argument from incredulity. I know teachers are human beings, and human beings freeze up when they’re frightened. But I’ve also seen the sacrifices grade school teachers make on days the media don’t notice. Over and over, day in and day out, with no hope of any relief outside of leaving the job.
And for this they get to be one of the most denigrated groups of professionals in the United States, targeted every single goddamn year for one “reform” after another, vouchers from the fundies and charter schools from the liberals, forced by law to take every spark of individuality and interest out of their curricula and then blamed when their students lose interest, resented their pensions and their health care by people who then blame them when their kids turn out to be apathetic.
Once the media horror dies down about Soto and her co-workers’ sacrifices, I guarantee you this: public school grade school teachers will go right back to being the despised class. “Union thugs.” “With three-month vacations.” “Teaching kids their ABCs.” All the idiotic, ill-informed, right wing anti-intellectual myths will rev up again as if nothing had happened. And in the meantime the people the Fox pundits despise will go on teaching kids to read and do math and treat each other with respect.
In other words, it’s not really that much of a jump to imagine all the teachers I know instinctively taking a bullet to protect their kids. To a first approximation, every single one of them does the same thing every waking moment, giving up their lives by increment to give their students a chance at a better life.
I don’t at all mean to trivialize the sacrifice Soto and her colleagues made by comparing it to, say, having to buy pencils on your own dime because the Republicans cut your district’s budget even further. What I’m saying is that given the kind of peson who chooses to remain in the profession despite all the sacrifice and opprobrium because they want to help kids, Soto’s tragic sacrifice isn’t in the least surprising. It’s what teachers do.
So I just thought I’d take a moment to thank those of you reading this who are, or who have been, grade school teachers for your routine heroism. We don’t recognize it enough.
Let me anticipate a likely semi-trollish objection: yes, there are grade school teachers who should not be teaching. Yes, there are burned out seat warmers. Yes, there are people teaching subjects they’re not really qualified to teach. Yes, there are the occasional people who shouldn’t be around children at all. If our society valued teachers the way teachers as a class deserve, such people wouldn’t be there. The incompetent and the abusive would never make the cut, and the burned-out would be far less burned out.
Victoria Soto: Sandy Hook teacher who wanted to mould young minds
First-grade teacher Soto, who had worked at the school for five years, reportedly died trying to shield her students from harm
A teacher who died trying to protect her children in Sandy Hook school has been described as a dedicated educator who had her dream job.
Victoria Soto, 27, was one of six adults and 20 children killed in the elementary school shooting on Friday.
It is thought Soto died trying to shield her students. According to a cousin, Jim Wiltsie, a police officer, said the family had been told that Soto was attempting to get her class into a closet when the gunman entered the room. "In our eyes, she's a hero," Wiltsie told ABC News.
"She was trying to shield, getting her children into a closet and protect them from harm. And by doing that put herself between the gunman and the children and that is when she was tragically shot and killed."
Wiltsie said the family had taken some comfort in knowing that Soto died while doing a job that she loved.
"Her life dream was to be a teacher and her instincts kicked in when she saw there was harm coming towards her students," he told ABC News, adding: "She lost her life doing what she loved. She loved her kids. Her goal in life was to be a teacher to mould young minds."
Her desire to educate started at an early age, those close to the teacher said. As well as teaching first grade, Soto was also studying for a master's degree in special education at Southern Connecticut State University. She graduated from Eastern Connecticut State University with an elementary education and history degree. "I have a passion for learning," she wrote on her online teacher's page.
Soto listed her passions outside school as spending time with family members, along with her dog, a black Labrador named Roxie. Soto had been at the school for five years, first as an intern, then as a classroom teacher.
"I look forward to an amazing year in the first grade with my amazing students of room 10!" she wrote.