Sandy Hook Elementary School Principal and Psychologist Remembered
One dressed up in goofy costumes to make her students smile.
Another was a psychologist — preparing to retire — who had seen generations of students through their parents’ divorces and difficult days.
Dawn Hochsprung, the principal of Sandy Hook Elementary School, and Mary Sherlach, a school psychologist, were among the six adults killed at the school in the mass shooting on Friday, educators gunned down alongside the children they cared for as if they were their own.
Authorities did not release an official list of the victims’ names, but the other four were believed to be school staff members.
The unimaginable loss of 20 children consumed much of the nation on Friday. But in Newtown, Conn., a tight-knit community of about 25,000 bonded by its schools, a profound, personal ache was felt also for the school staff members who were killed.
Ms. Sherlach, 56, was remembered for her many years of helping students cope with problems that they were unprepared to handle.
And Ms. Hochsprung, 47, was mourned as a creative and dedicated educator who had quickly won over children and adults alike.
“I’m not surprised she gave her life in this fashion, trying to protect her students,” said Gerald Stomski, the first selectman of Woodbury, Conn., who knew Ms. Hochsprung.
Grief-stricken Sandy Hook parents spoke of the elementary school as an extension of their own homes, a haven of support for children and their families.
That environment was fostered by Ms. Hochsprung, who began her job there in 2010 and had used the time since then to tamp down any nervousness children felt approaching the proverbial “principal’s office.” Before taking the job at Sandy Hook, she had worked at other schools in Connecticut.
“She was not the kind of principal I remembered as a kid,” said Diane Licata, the mother of a first grader and a second grader at the school. “She really reached out to the students and made them feel comfortable with her. She definitely took that extra step.”
Ms. Hochsprung organized festive days she called Wacky Wednesdays, when students were encouraged to wear goofy clothes that did not match. She had students dress up as their favorite storybook characters, and she was known for dressing up herself. Sometimes, she brought her poodle to school.
She was no distant authority figure. Ms. Licata said her young children, who often skimped on details of their days, regularly came home with stories of what Ms. Hochsprung had done that day.
But for all the levity, Ms. Hochsprung also took education very seriously. She was the one who distributed long articles to colleagues about policy debates in Washington and highlighted news from the latest speech by Arne Duncan, the secretary of education.
She was also unusually tech savvy. She kept an active Twitter feed documenting the school — “In a fourth grade classroom right now,” she wrote in a recent message. She said she was impressed “by the caliber of instruction and by students’ deep thinking!”
Ms. Hochsprung believed that many students engaged better with electronic screens than with blackboards, and she made sure her teachers had iPads in the classroom. Then, she organized “Appy Hour” sessions to discuss the most useful teaching apps.
Lillian Bittman, former chairwoman of the Newtown Board of Education, helped choose Ms. Hochsprung for the position. She recalled an eager applicant, filled with ideas and focused on “making sure we were turning out critical thinkers, making sure the children weren’t just turning out rote learning.”
Ms. Hochsprung and her husband had planned to retire someday to the Adirondacks, where they owned a home, a former neighbor, Bill LaCroix, said.
If Ms. Hochsprung was a relatively new face in the school, Ms. Sherlach was a fixture, a reliable ally for generations of children in need of counsel.
“When somebody had a personal tragedy in their lives that affected their children, then Mary would be a part of trying to help them come up with a solution for that child,” said Ms. Bittman, whose three children graduated from Sandy Hook Elementary.
Ms. Sherlach lived in Trumbull, Conn., with her husband, William, a financial adviser with Morgan Stanley in Fairfield. The couple have two grown daughters, a high school choral teacher who lives in New Jersey and a chemistry doctoral student at Georgetown University, according to a biography of her husband posted on his company’s Web site.
As night fell on Friday, mourners streamed in and out of Ms. Sherlach’s home.
John Button, 57, a friend of Ms. Sherlach’s husband, said Ms. Sherlach was getting ready to retire.
“It was going to be her last year — that’s what she said,” he said. “She loved her job,” he added. “She’s done this for her whole career.”
He recalled vacationing in the Finger Lakes region of New York with the couple, who have a house there. He was supposed to play golf on Saturday morning with Mr. Sherlach.
“It’s ironic,” Mr. Button said. “At a time when kids need help, it was the school psychologist that was sacrificed.”
Friends of slain Sandy Hook Elementary School principal Dawn Hochsprung say they are not surprised that her first instinct was to run toward danger when gunfire erupted at the Connecticut school on Friday.
I am mad — and disappointed. But I’ve been here before in the wake of tragedy and I know what’s ahead. Make no mistake: The tide is turning and we will not forget these votes cast yesterday when we head to the polls this fall. Our votes give us real power
On 12/14/12 The Events of that Day Were Horrific , Heartbreaking & Unforgettable. Thanks To The Media Those Horrific, Unforgettable Moments are Captured in the Eyes of The Shooter Who Name Will Not Be Mentioned! Despite What Large Forms of Media Say This Man Doesn’t Deserve This sort of Celebrity Recognition. His Actions Deserve to be pushed out to Obscurity & Discounted as Completely Valueless. How Ever our Current World is one in Which Current Evil is highlighted and Prominently displayed for all to See. This Means in a very Real way The Villain becomes the Hero. After all any writer will Tell You a Protagonist is a Protagonist. Regardless of his Perceived lack of Morality or their Objective. This Confusion Can easily Be Adopted by a Disturbed Lonely Young individual who finds hope in the evil thought that Maybe i can Finally be Important. It’s a natural human drive to Matter to contribute and be appreciated for it but our society distorts important So Heavily that is easy to see how a person of unsound of heart & Mind to accumulate enough pieces of information in about this world to believe self importance is essential enough to kill & die for. It is The Reason Why You Know the Name, Age & even Face of the Man from New Town, Connecticut. But You Don’t Know This One : “Victoria Soto” Was a Elementary School Teacher & One of Six Adults killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting. At just 27 Years old MS Soto was well Liked by her students. Described as Very Nice, Funny & a little bit of a rebel as she often chewed Gum in class despite school Rules. On the Morning of December 14, in New town , Connecticut Gun Shots echoed through the hallway’s of Sandy Hook Elementary. The School Principal “Dawn HochSprung” & the Schools Psychologist “Mary Sherlach" immediately let them needing they had to go Confront the Threat. While attempting to stop the shooter Both Hochsprung & Sherlach were executed. In the Very same Hallway’s were they dedicated their lives to bettering the lives of the children placed in their care. As the Ring of Gun shots in the hallway’s interrupted the activities of the classroom. ”Victoria Soto“ Sprang into action she quickly took her ”16 Angels" as she liked to call them under her Wing & ushered them into the classroom Closet were she told them to Stay & Remain Quiet. When the gunman entered the Classroom MS. Soto Braveley faced him Possibly with a mouth full of Chewing Gum & Told him that they her students were in the GYM. At Which Time the Killer Who will Remain Nameless Pointed his gun at the Little Angels Fearless Guardian and brought her life to an end. Then believing the classroom to be completely void of life turned the gun on himself and commited suicide. “Victoria Soto" Plan in protecting her students has succeeded. Her vital signs quickly faded but THANKS to her Bravery & the sacrifice of her rebel heart there were still ”16" little beating hearts hiding in the Closet.
Why Do I Tell You this Story & Paint a Picture of this Women While Admitting any facts about her killer Because this man Doesn’t not represent Humanity. This man’s behavior was an abberation of Human Existence, He needed Help but there is no need for this world to him Recognition or put him in the Center of any Story. What our World Need is a Face Like This or a name Like “Victoria Soto”. So when you tell a Story don’t speak of a man who took life , Speak of a Woman Who Gave hers ! When You Post to facebook Don’t Rant about Gun Laws, or Vengeance Rant about Love Write about love that that laid down it’s life so that sickness in ones mans heart couldn’t infect her Little Angels. The Media Forces us to feed images of evil, Despair & Fear. But in this Technological Day & Age we are lucky in enough to be able to be our own Media & we can Feed our selves images of Faith, Hope & Love. Get online Google“Victoria Soto” , Blog about Her , Tweet About Her , Instagram her Face ! There are Good Influential People with their fingers in that Pulse. With enough will Power & Intent we have the Ability to Change this World , Don’t Spread this man’s image Spread this Woman’s Story So that the Seeds of her Death & Sacrifice can spring Forth New Life in a New World that We Can Constantly Create Together. Thank YOU
Our hearts are with the families of all the victims connected to this evil event:
- Noah Pozner, 11/20/06, male - Avielle Richman, 10/17/06, female - Benjamin Wheeler, 9/12/06, male - Caroline Previdi, 9/07/06, female - Olivia Engel, 7/18/06, female - Madeleine F. Hsu, 7/10/06, female - Jesse Lewis, 6/30/06, male - Catherine V. Hubbard, 6/08/06, female - Emilie Parker, 5/12/06, female - Jessica Rekos, 5/10/06, female - Jack Pinto, 5/06/06, male - Ana M. Marquez-Greene, 04/04/06, female - James Mattioli , 3/22/06, male - Dylan Hockley, 3/8/06, male - Charlotte Bacon, 2/22/06, female - Josephine Gay, 12/11/05, female - Grace McDonnell, 12/04/05, female - Chase Kowalski, 10/31/05, male - Daniel Barden, 9/25/05, male - Victoria Soto, 11/04/85, female - Rachel Davino, 7/17/83, female - Lauren Rousseau, June/82, female - Dawn Hochsprung, 06/28/65, female - Anne Marie Murphy, 07/25/60, female - Mary Sherlach, 2/11/56, female
- Nancy Lanza, Unavailable, female - Adam Lanza, 4/22/1992, male
“Faith is seeing the world others tell you is fantasy, Hope is trusting in it’s imminent arrival, and Love is the only way to bridge the gap between the two worlds”
I remember, when I first moved to the quaint little town of Woodbury, my local school’s principal Mrs. Hochsprung was always painted with a smile - a sunny, friendly peer rather than an intimidating principal. This little trait of hers certainly allowed me to adjust much better to this new environment, seeing that she was so happy and keen to have me get off to a good start at my new school and make friends. I remember, also, later on, when I (sort of) accidentally squeezed a potato chip bag filled with a sickly concoction from my lunch onto another table - humorous and as light-hearted as the situation was, it earned me a trip to the principal’s office (ooo, scary!). I sat down, quite obviously frightened by the thought of my consequences - I didn’t know what penalties they served here, I mean, I’ve always been a good kid - I’m never called to the office! My worries were quickly swept away as Mrs. Hochsprung entered the room, her unrelenting smile continuing to mount her cheeks cheerily, her mere presence being able to peel off a layer of guilt that was consuming me. I ended out with a simple “don’t do that again!” warning, given with that smile that looked down at me jokingly. Her gracious act was enough to send me brimming with euphoria as I realized Mrs. Hochsprung was hardly someone to be feared or disliked. She was a person who could understand your predicament, someone who could relate and laugh with you instead of scolding and shaming you into misery. She was a blessing to the school and became more of a friend to you rather than a principal - and for that, I thank her.