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My hero

Published December 29. 2012 09:01AM

Why don't you do an experiment? Ask someone to tell you the name of his hero. Most children will answer by giving you a supernatural creature - such as Batman or Superman. Still others will name a professional athlete.

Some younger children might name one of the Power Rangers or even Barney the purple dinosaur. Perhaps an adult will say "My Dad" or "My Mom." Those are excellent, touching answers.

If you asked that question of me lately, I would tell you that I have a new hero. Her name is Dawn Hochsprung. She was the principal of the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT.

We learned about the school shooter - Adam Lanza - and how he killed his mother while she slept and then proceeded to go to the Sandy Hook Elementary school where his mom had volunteered. He murdered 20 beautiful young children and 6 educators. And then he killed himself.

Apparently, the second person he killed after his mother was the principal Dawn Hochsprung. She and some other faculty members were in a meeting and heard the noise as Lanza invaded their school. Instead of hiding under a table, Dawn Hochsprung ran out toward the shooter. Her intent must have been to stop him.

She was killed immediately. Her reputation as a child advocate and protector of her students will be engraved forever on our hearts. It was her idea to install a new security system and it was her actions that warned the rest of the school that evil had invaded her territory. She had the PA system turned on so that the teachers could hear the disturbance and take action to shield their pupils.

The lovely song "Wind Beneath my Wings" has a line that says, "Did you ever know that you're my hero? You're everything I would like to be." I would have liked to sing that to Dawn. I hope that - if I were ever faced with such a life and death situation - I could have acted bravely like Dawn did.

As a former school principal, my heart was broken when I heard about the Sandy Hook school massacre. It is every principal's worst nightmare. Our number one priority is to care for the children and make sure that they are safe.

When I learned how Dawn had sacrificed her life for her students, I admired her greatly. She gave the ultimate gift to her school. Although she couldn't save everyone, she certainly helped her staff to be vigilant.

In today's world, the word "hero" is used too often without too much thinking. Real heroes don't fly through the air or change their clothes in a telephone booth. They don't morph into invincible zords or score lots of points in a game.

In my humble opinion, Dawn Hochsprung and the other teachers who died in the Sandy Hook school shooting are the true definition of a HERO.


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