A former first-grade teacher’s heartfelt account of how she survived both the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre and the events that followed it.
Roig-DeBellis always knew she wanted to work with children and “help them become the best people they could possibly be.” So when she was hired to teach first grade at Sandy Hook starting in the fall of 2007, she was thrilled. Each day was a joy: “we just didn’t have bad days at Sandy Hook. It was always sunny inside.” All that changed on Dec. 14, 2012, when a gunman—whose name she has since refused to speak—came onto campus and killed 20 children and 6 adults. The minute Roig-DeBellis heard gunshots, she hid 15 students and herself in a tiny class bathroom and prayed. After her rescue she discovered that the gunman had miraculously skipped her classroom—which was the first in the hallway where the gunman began his spree—and gone into the classrooms next to hers, “shooting everyone he saw.” Despite support from family and friends, the author’s nightmare did not end with her rescue. School administrators repeatedly ignored her efforts to create enhanced classroom safety measures for her traumatized students, and they eventually asked her to take a leave from teaching. Undeterred, Roig-DeBellis took the time off to turn a classroom project that used donated items and funds received after the massacre to help needy students at other schools into a nonprofit organization called Classes 4 Classes. Though it may strike some readers as Pollyannaish, the author’s sunny optimism about the teaching profession is sincere. Her account of the shooting, her struggle to keep despair at bay in both herself and her students, and her ultimate triumph as a survivor seeking to make a difference help balance the book and redeem it from excessive sentimentality.
A flawed but still courageous and inspiring book from a genuine hero.