As soon as at Sandy Hook Elementary School teacher Kaitlin Roig-Debellis heard gunfire erupting inside her Newtown, Connecticut, school on December 14, 2012, she quickly shepherded her class of fifteen first-graders into a tiny, single-occupancy bathroom “where they sat in quiet terror for 45 minutes until rescue arrived,” according to Publisher’s Weekly. Roig-Debellis has since been heralded a hero for the quick thinking that saved her students from the shooting massacre where murderer Adam Lanza shot and killed 20 first graders and six school educators that tragic day.
On September 26, The Union Leader reported that Roig-Debellis has written a book describing her experiences from that day. “Choosing Hope: Moving Forward from Life’s Darkest Hours,” will be published on October 6 and according to Roig-Debellis was written with the hope that it will help inspire readers to remain positive as they seek to work through the worst challenges that life may throw at them.
According to a review from Publisher’s Weekly, Roig-Debellis’ memoir is dramatic in how it conveys the speed with how one’s ordinary life can change while at the same time probing “the depth of the struggle to rise from despair to hope.” On Friday, People covered a small reunion with Roig-Debellis and some of those students she helped save that fateful day and also shared some excerpts for her book.
The hero teacher turned author described the morning before shots rang out and recalled playing “Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin’” for her class and greeting them by saying “Good morning fantastic friends!” Roig-Debellis wrote about the class theme for the day being holiday traditions and recalled how her students talked about “making cookies and visiting Santa and listening for reindeer,” according to that excerpt from People.
It was only minutes later that she heard the gunfire erupt and immediately knew she had to jump into action. She shut her classroom doors, turned off the room lights and guided her 15 first graders into a tiny bathroom just adjacent to her classroom. She barricaded the door with a storage unit.
“I tell them how much they have meant to me. ‘I need you to know that I love you all very much,’ I say. ‘Anyone who believes in the power of prayer needs to pray right now,’ I say, ‘and anyone who does not, needs to think really happy thoughts,’?” she wrote in the excerpt. ~ Per Publisher’s Weekly
“Choosing Hope” is available from Amazon who shared a review describing the book as “[S]tirring…a bold, inspiring and ultimately hopeful book.” For more on Roig-Debellis’ thoughts from December 14, 2012, see the video accompanying this article. You can also follow Kaitlin Roig-DeBellis on Facebook.