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A Memorial for Fallen Teachers

Rachel D'Avino, Dawn Hochsprung, Anne Marie Murphy, Lauren Rousseau, Marie Sherlach, and Victoria Soto were killed in the line of duty on December 14, 2012, protecting their innocent students from a deranged gunman at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.

Charles Albert Poland Jr. was killed in the line of duty on January 29, 2013, protecting students from a mad gunman on the bus he drove for Dale County Schools in Alabama.

Dr. Vicki Kaspar, assistant principal at Millard South High School in Omaha, Nebraska, was killed in the line of duty on January 5, 2011, when yet another crazed gunman opened fire in the main office.

And, sadly, the list goes on and on.

We will not forget them and the others who sacrificed their lives doing what they loved and protecting children from the gun violence and mental illness that our country has refused to address in a meaningful way. As we appreciate teachers this week for the job they do, let us also remember those who have fallen in the line of duty. But more than remembering, let's support an effort to memorialize these brave and courageous educators.

The National Teachers Hall of Fame has announced an effort to build a "Memorial to Fallen Educators" on the campus of Emporia State University in Emporia, Kansas. It will be a black granite monument with the names of fallen educators inscribed. Not only will it include the names of recent educators who deserve to be memorialized, but it also will go all the way back to 1882 when Robert Bailey was killed at his school in Illinois.

Emporia State University has been very generous in donating land and committing to the maintenance of this memorial. It will be up to us to raise the funds with donations that can be made to the NTHF. Kudos to Pearson Foundation and Security Benefit Corporation for making substantial contributions to allow the project to proceed. Now our contributions are needed. Join me in sending a check to NTHF/Memorial Fund, 1200 Commercial Street, Box 4017, Emporia, Kansas 66801.

A groundbreaking ceremony will be held June 13th, and a dedication ceremony is expected to take place as early as August. The location is next to the historic one-room school house on campus. For those of you who value the teaching profession and its history, a trip to Emporia, Kansas, should be on your travel list.

As we reflect on the challenges facing teachers, we wonder at and despair over teachers who have been put in positions of "first responders" to school violence. While we remember our dead, let us appreciate the living by standing with America's teachers and other educators and by offering thanks for each and every one of them.

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