Connecticut school shooting

Teacher victims of mass shooting recalled as dedicated to students

PUBLISHED : Monday, 17 December, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 17 December, 2012, 6:16am

Dawn Hochsprung was known as the open and friendly face of Sandy Hook Elementary School, a 47-year-old principal pursuing a doctorate on weekends and quick with a smile.

Victoria Soto, 27, was a first-grade teacher, who liked to tell stories about her students. She lived in a pale blue house with her mother and three siblings. She shovelled snow from an ailing neighbour's walkway.

They were among the six adults killed in the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.

Mandy Ives, 49, said Hochsprung was a welcoming presence and advocate for her son, Henry, nine, taking the time to chat with him about trains and puzzles when he attended the school earlier this year. He transferred before the shooting.

"I didn't even realise she was the principal," she said. "She was always sitting out in the front office."

During the attack, she confronted the gunman after he shot through glass to enter the building, said Mary Ann Jacob, an assistant librarian. The gunman then shot Hochsprung, she said.

Soto, the first-grade teacher, often stayed at school until 8pm, her sister Carlee said, and had almost completed her master's degree in teaching from Southern Connecticut State University in New Haven. Britain's Independent on Sunday newspaper splashed her photo on its front page with the caption "The Heroine of Sandy Hook".

"She died protecting the kids that she loved," her sister Jillian said. "We're very proud to say she's our sister."

The other adult victims were all woman: Rachel Davino, 29, Anne Marie Murphy, 52, Lauren Rousseau, aged 30, and Mary Sherlach, 56.

Rousseau had spent years working as a substitute teacher and doing other jobs. She had planned to see The Hobbit with her boyfriend on Friday and had baked cupcakes for a party they were to attend afterwards.

Sherlach was the school psychologist. When the shots rang out, she lost her own life, rushing towards the shooter alongside Hochsprung.

Additional reporting by Associated Press