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Sandy Hook Teacher Talks about Hope, Kindness
Kaitlin Roig-DeBellis speaks at King Low Heywood Thomas
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Stamford, CT | Added on April 23, 2014 At 05:59 PM

She's the first grade teacher at Sandy Hook who hid her students in their class bathroom; protecting them there until the "good guys" came to save them.  

After enduring an unimaginable tragedy, Kaitlin Roig-DeBellis is now on a mission, to teach life lessons of kindness, compassion and hope.  

Kaitlin Roig-DeBellis says she still feels the pain of December 14, 2012.  

"It's constant, and I don't say that as a complaint.  I'm very grateful, very grateful.  But it is always, always with me," said Kaitlin Roig-DeBellis.  

That morning, she says as loud rapid shots were fired, she hid her 15 first graders in a bathroom the size of a closet; shutting off the lights and locking the door.

"The sounds were horrifying to me as an adult and I could not begin to even fathom what my students must have been thinking and feeling," said Roig-DeBellis.  "And so in that moment I said to them, 'I am so lucky to be your teacher.  I am so thankful that you are in my class, and I love you very very much.  I needed them to know that if those were to be our last moments."  

But her story doesn't begin or end there.  It unfolds with a purpose to help children succeed.  

"My story today is one of an educator.  It is who I have always been at my core," said Roig DeBellis.  

She's now inspiring positive change in Kindergarten through 8th grade classrooms across  the country with her nonprofit, Classes4Classes.  

It's all about paying it forward.  One class chooses another to give an ipad or white board to.  Anything that class may need, but they have to choose another school before they can accept.

"Now there's a project up on the site for field trips.  It's a classroom in Connecticut sponsoring a classroom in New York City."

With that, she speaks with students and teachers, like here in Stamford at King Low Heywood Thomas about her mission around the country.  

"I want teachers to know that they are amazing and that they are the difference-makers in our world," said Roig-DeBellis.  "I want students to know as they head out into their lives -- high school students, college students -- I want them to know that whatever they come up against, good, bad, everything in between, that hope is a choice and they should hold on to it."

"And that perspective is a choice and they should always choose to focus on good."

For now she'll continue spreading her message, but Roig DeBellis says she plans to return to her own classroom.  You can find more information on Classes4Classes at http://www.classes4classes.org

 


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