Much More Than A Victim

To the Editor:

Before caring for Sandy Hook Elementary School, Mrs Dawn Hochsprung was my principal in Region 14, from kindergarten through fifth grade. I was fortunate enough to go to a tiny country school where Mrs Hochsprung knew each student in the building by name.

Our principal wanted only for us to succeed and be happy, and she always made us feel special. We would receive a small present on our birthdays, and her black poodle Bella would trot into the classroom to snuggle. The first year I stepped into Bethlehem Elementary School, she instituted the school code, which we recited each morning preceding the Pledge of Allegiance: "I am safe, responsible, respectful and prepared." That quote represents my childhood.

After our school district was reconfigured, Mrs Hochsprung continued to be a familiar and comforting presence at Mitchell Elementary School in Woodbury. In fifth grade I was chosen to receive an award, along with two other students. I recall standing in front of the assembly while Mrs Hochsprung referred to specific times I would help my classmates in math class. I remain honored that a busy woman like Mrs Hochsprung found the time to think about her students in this way. Now I understand that's where her heart was.  At the end of that school year Mrs Hochsprung moved on to Newtown.

When I anxiously logged onto Facebook the night of the shooting, my news feed was flooded with posts referencing our code. In the days to come I would hear hushed whispers at Woodbury Middle School about the tragedy and her loss. But this made me realize something important: she was much more than an innocent life taken by a maniacal gunman. We need to remember and honor the admirable person she was. Mrs Hochsprung was much more than a victim. Because I felt this so strongly, I dedicated a blog in her memory:  (http://thankyoumrshochsprung.tumblr.com).

For everything that she gave of herself throughout her years of working with students, I will be forever grateful.

Lucy Laferriere

Grey Fox Trail, Woodbury                  December 10, 2013

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