Sandy Hook Elementary teacher Kaitlin Roig-DeBellis saved her entire class of 6- and 7-year-old students by hiding them in a bathroom as a deranged gunman murdered 20 elementary students and six teachers in the building around them. The 2012 massacre left the teacher deeply scarred and hoping for tighter security in the school building where so many children and teachers lost their lives. However, following a disagreement over a lack of security following the massacre, Roig-DeBellis quit her job. She is now speaking out about the tragedy in her book Choosing Hope: Moving Forward from Life’s Darkest Hours.
The Daily Mail reports that Sandy Hook teacher Kaitlin Roig-DeBellis took swift action when she heard gunfire erupt in the Newton, Connecticut, elementary school. She took her class of 6 and 7-year-old students, 15 children in total, into a single-person bathroom located in the building and hid from the gunman. As a result of her heroic actions and quick-thinking, all 15 of her students would survive the terrifying ordeal. However, the teacher says she will never forget the words spoken by the frightened youngsters as they hid in the tiny bathroom stall listening to the “sounds of carnage” around them.
Kaitlin says that as they hid in the bathroom she told all of the students that she loved them and then they proceeded to pray together.
“I need you to know that I love you all very much.”
The teacher recounts how they could hear the “sounds of carnage” from the stall but continued to hid until an FBI swat team lead them out of the building. While in the bathroom stall, Kaitlin says that she remembers one child saying “I just want my mom.” Another student exclaiming, “I don’t want to die before Christmas.” Though all of Kaitlin Roig-DeBellis’ students would make it out alive, 20 elementary students and six teachers wouldn’t live to see their next Christmas as they were gunned down in the elementary school by the mentally disturbed shooter who had murdered his own mother earlier in the day.
Kaitlin says that she has witnessed the “worst of mankind,” but is choosing to be kind and remain grateful despite it all.
“Bad things happen to all of us, things that test us and impact us and change us, but it is not those moments that define us. It is how we choose to react to them that does.”
She says she will never be able to “move on” from the tragedy, but she is refusing to allow it to define who she is as a person. The former Sandy Hook teacher also says that the incident resulted in her ultimate termination from her employment as a teacher for the school after a disagreement with the school’s superintendent over security measures at the school. Kaitlin says that the district denied requests for extra security measures following the massacre so she left the school system.
Meanwhile, school shootings are still happening across the country. In fact, late last week a gunman entered a Oregon community college and killed eight students and a teacher while wounding numerous others.
Kaitlin Roig-Debellis’ book will be released on Tuesday detailing her harrowing efforts to save her students during the Sandy Hook school shooting and how it has changed her life forever.
[Image Credit: Getty Images/ John Moore]