Sandy Hook Teacher Chooses Hope

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.)

Kaitlyn Roig-DeBellis and her former 1st grade students get together a couple of times a year. Their bonds are strong, following the Sandy Hook tragedy.

Kaitlin Roig-DeBellis and her former 1st grade students get together a couple of times a year. Their bonds are strong, following the Sandy Hook tragedy.

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.

Kaitlin Roig

Kaitlin Roig-DeBellis

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.

kaitlin-roig-debellis-choosing-hopeWhen the hardcover copy appeared last year, her book tour took her all across the country.

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.)

3 responses to “Sandy Hook Teacher Chooses Hope

  1. This is beautiful. (A beautiful outcome to a horror). I am happy for her & her children (w/ of course measured sympathy for what must be ongoing trauma). I met her fellow teacher — Victoria Soto — before she was killed protecting her students…

    …I wish we could read a book by Victoria as well — but I will always remember meeting her & our conversation together. We spoke about human rights / women’s rights around the world / children’s rights & children’s safety. I told her about the Human Rights Watch Film Festival in NYC & London etc. every year — which she had just missed so we talked about how she would definitely see it “next year”… Of course there was not a “next year”.

    I see Victoria making that “HRWF next year” note to herself on a scrap of paper in that cafe over & over in my mind & it reminds me never to be presumptious about the future. (That REALLY there is no future… ONLY the one time). Hence I wish everyone would go to this film festival or download films from it every year & think of Victoria wanting to go but never having had the chance.

    I still can’t get my head round what happened. The drive to Newtown (through Easton years ago — before rte. 25 connected to the Parkway — past Helen Keller’s house & the country store at the Corners) was always a lovely drive FARTHER into the more pristine country (apple orchard & Xmas tree farm country) and hence the LAST place I ever expected shattering violence to occur. We would visit my mother’s friends — an electrical engineer & his wife & daughter (a former nurse & the first person I knew w/ MS) from Germany — to drink too much coffee & eat too much cake & listen to his completely mad theories about electricity affecting health & get the tour of the garden (of course). This went on for two decades: from childhood & after my move to NYC & marriage at 21… Hence the absolute worst thing about Newtown for me was the ride back to Westport: Easton road w/ a diesel Mercedes engine & four cups of Milch Kafee within can make one spin. I wish that had stayed the absoloute worst thing.

    Please take an interest in women’s & children’s rights & safety round the world as Victoria did — in memory of Victoria <3

    • *Sorry: ‘Kaffee’ (two ‘f’… for all you first year German students!)

      • & correction: ‘presumptuous’ (for the first year English students!). Also The Human Rights Watch Film Festival / WRWFF has two ‘f’s as well… Bit of trouble w/ double ‘f’s earlier this morning apparently…