from the minute i heard about the shootings at sandy hook elementary school in newtown ct, a small and beautiful town in one of the prettiest parts of beautiful connecticut where terrible things aren't supposed to happen, i've been thinking about the children and teachers who were murdered and their families.
the pictures of the children break your heart. smiling, happy, talented--a video of one little girl playing the piano and singing.
one of their teachers, rachel d'avino (shown in the photo above), attended the university of st. joseph in west hartford connecticut. i learned this when i called my favorite teacher, laurette laramie, just to hear her voice, and to let her know what she means to me. laurette and my mother, lucille arrigan rice, also attended st. joe's and became teachers. the devotion my mother and laurette had/have for their students has always inspired me. once in 1978 or so a student brought a handgun into my mother's class and drew it on her and the class and she talked him into not shooting anyone, into putting the gun away, into letting her take him to the guidance counselor.
that story of my mother's was just a story--it wasn't headlines, it happened pre-lockdowns, pre-metal detectors. my mother's life was threatened, but she just kept going, caring about her students, getting them help when she could, directing them to the school psychologist because she believed their actions came from inner pain.
i feel devastated to learn of rachel's death. i didn't know this bright and dear young woman, but i feel the st. joe's connection. i'm the daughter of a teacher, and i think teachers are our everyday saints. i know laurette is one, i know my mother was, my friends joe monninger and doreen dedrick are, and i know that the teachers murdered in newtown are: rachel d'avino, dawn hochsprung (principal), anne marie murphy, lauren rousseau, mary sherlach, and victoria soto.
tonight i spoke with my friend sgt. rob derry of the connecticut state police to ask him about the first responders (the "good guys" some of the teachers spoke of)--who had to deal with the trauma of what they saw. he told me that right now there are two state troopers assigned to each newtown family who lost a child, and tomorrow there will be a large law enforcement presence at all connecticut schools. my grandfather was a hartford police detective. i'm in awe and gratitude of the people who devote their lives to public service.
to quote my sister maureen rice onorato: "i've always been so amazed by people who work in schools, who help children every day, children and their parents...every day out there looking out for them." we think of our mother, how much she cared...every day, all through the years. she taught children who had children of their own, and she really helped them know they could go on to better lives. she would come home and talk about her kids, and their lives, and we could feel her love for them.
thank you, love, and love, and more love. oh rachel.