To the editor of THE EAGLE

I am a 7th grade teacher at Newtown Middle School in Connecticut. My daughter Lucy Laferriere is currently a freshman boarding at Miss Hall's School in Pittsfield. This is an essay she wrote after the disaster for her application to Miss Hall's, and I thought it was fitting for a current Letter to the Editor.

"Before caring for Sandy Hook, Mrs. Dawn Hochsprung was my principal, from kindergarten through fifth grade. I was fortunate enough to go to a tiny country school. 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 others. I recall standing in front of the assembly while Mrs. Hochsprung referred to specific times I would help my classmates. 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.

"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 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."


Woodbury, Conn.