Barnes & Noble’s Educator Appreciation Week begins tomorrow.
The Westport store kicks off the discounts-and-more celebration with a special event. Kaitlin Roig-DeBellis — the Sandy Hook Elementary School teacher who led 15 students into a tiny bathroom, saving them all while a killer stalked the halls outside — will discuss and sign copies of her book, Choosing Hope: Moving Forward from Life’s Darkest Hours.
It’s a compelling read. (Readers can skip the chapter about that horrific day nearly 4 years ago, yet still understand her important, uplifting message about purpose, perspective and the power of choice in overcoming adversity.)
Many of Kaitlin’s friends and relatives will be in the audience. That’s to be expected: She grew up in Danbury, and has spent her life in Fairfield County.
But there’s an even stronger Westport connection than that.
Kaitlin — who knew when she was 3 years old that she wanted to teach — got her 1st job at Greens Farms Elementary School. During the 2006-07 school year, she was a long-term sub for the reading specialist.
“I loved every second of it,” she says of that time, a decade ago.
There’s another local tie-in too. When Kaitlin was 23, she learned that both her birth mother and father had grown up in Westport. Her birth mother graduated from Staples High School. Kaitlin also discovered she had a sister 9 years younger, from Westport.
Kaitlin has developed a relationship with her birth family. “I’m blessed to have them in my life,” she says. A chapter in her book describes her first meeting with her birth mother.
And — in another coincidence — Kaitlin’s adoptive mother grew up in Wilton. But she spent a year at Staples, after a fire at that school.
Kaitlin’s Barnes & Noble appearance celebrates both Educator Appreciation Week and publication of the paperback edition of Kaitlin’s book.
On Saturday, she looks forward to being here. Westport, after all, is the town where her birth parents still live.
And where Barnes & Noble sits just a few yards from Greens Farms El, where Kaitlin’s life as a teacher began.
(Kaitlin Roig-De Bellis speaks at the Westport Barnes & Noble tomorrow — Saturday, October 8 — at 3 p.m. A portion of the proceeds from sales of Choosing Hope go to Classes4Classes, Kaitlin’s non-profit foundation dedicated to eradicating hate, one classroom at a time.)