EMPORIA, KAN. — Retired Newtown Assistant Principal Anthony Salvatore, Newtown Federation of Teachers President Tom Kuroski, and Sandy Hook School teacher Liesl Fressola traveled to Emporia, Kan., for the dedication ceremony, held on Thursday, June 12, of a Memorial to Fallen Educators.
The memorial was created by the National Teachers Hall of Fame, and will permanently recognize more than 100 United States educators who have lost their lives while fulfilling their educational duties, according to a release from the American Federation of Teachers.
Dr Salvatore represented, at the request of the American Federation of School Administrators (AFSA) President Diann Woodard, both local administrators and the national union; Mr Kuroski represented the American Federation of Teachers at the event.
Dr Salvatore, who recently retired as assistant principal of Newtown Middle School, also presented a $5,000 donation from Newtown’s 17 administrators to support the memorial during his time in Emporia.
For the dedication ceremony, Ms Fressola and Mr Kuroski were asked to read the names of Rachel Davino, Dawn Hochsprung, Anne Marie Murphy, Lauren Rousseau, Mary Sherlach, and Victoria Soto — the six women killed during the events of 12/14 at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
The memorial is dedicated to all fallen educators, as far back as 1764, when schoolmaster Enoch Brown lost his life during a Lenape Indian attack in Pennsylvania.
When Mr Kuroski spoke at the dedication ceremony, he said, “In Newtown, the violence that ripped through Sandy Hook not only cost us the precious lives of students, colleagues and friends, but it also cost us our sense of security.
“For many of us, when we returned to our schools and classrooms, we felt insecure about fulfilling our most sacred duty: teaching and nurturing our students while keeping them safe. Schools have always been places of sanctuary and centers of our communities. Yet in recent years, we have seen multiple tragedies at schools across the country—more than half of the fallen educators included in this memorial died during the past 14 years.
“And just this week, the tragedy at Reynolds High School in Oregon — the 74th school shooting since Sandy Hook — once again reminds us that school safety is an issue that must be addressed,” Mr Kuroski read, according to the American Federation of Teachers.
Mr Kuroski also told the assembled group at the ceremony that he hopes the memorial will inspire people, both locally and nationally, to make school safety a top priority.
“…And ensure that no other community, no other school, no other teacher, no other school support personnel, no other administrator, no other student, no other parent, has to go through what we went through on December 14, 2012, and continue to go through each and every day. We are all Newtown,” said Mr Kuroski.
When back from his time in Emporia, Dr Salvatore said everyone he met at the dedication ceremony was “kind, caring, and passionate.”
The donation he and Newtown’s other administrators made to the memorial will help maintain it and go toward the eventual creation of kiosks, which will share the story of the fallen educators. Others can also donate to the maintenance of the memorial, according to Dr Salvatore.
“The amount of work that they put in from the first shovel, last June, to now is just phenomenal,” Dr Salvatore said.
The groundbreaking for the memorial, which is on the campus of Emporia State University, was June 13, 2013. Former Board of Education member and Newtown resident Dr Gerard Brooker represented Newtown during that event.
The memorial itself, as described by Dr Salvatore, is eight feet tall and situated on pedestals.
More information about the Memorial for Fallen Educators is available at nthfmemorial.org.