Newtown mom: 'Real heroes' in America's schools
September 13, 2013 -- Updated 2025 GMT (0425 HKT)
Mandie Balderaz's 8-year-old son was inspired to create his own memorial on his New Braunfels, Texas front lawn.
A second grader's prayers
A 9-year-old girl's condolences
Instead of birthday candles
Christmas light memorial
A first grader's t-shirt
Tribute on the beach
Notes for Noah
A promise to remember
A poem for the lost
'Wrapped in love'
- Sandy Hook mom writes letter to teachers
- "My students need me now more than ever," one teacher told her
- "Real heroes don't wear capes," Nelba Marquez-Greene writes
(HLN) -- When Nelba Marquez-Greene lost her 6-year-old daughter in the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, she chose to cope with her loss in a unique way: by writing a letter.
That letter, which addresses teachers and was published September 6 in Education Week, tells a story that will shake any parent to the core.
Not powerless: What parents can do after Newtown
Marquez-Greene's daughter, Ana Grace, was one of the 20 first-graders killed December 14, when 20-year-old Adam Lanza arrived at the school with a rifle in hand. Six educators were also fatally shot by Lanza before he killed himself.
"While waiting in the firehouse that day to hear the official news that our daughter was dead, my husband and I made promises to ourselves, to each other, and to our son," Marquez-Greene writes. "We promised to face the future with courage, faith, and love."
Teachers lessons in heroism and healing
Principal: Teachers saved students
Antoinette Tuff honored for heroism
Marquez-Greene goes on to speak about the courage and bravery of teachers, marveling at how they could return to work after an event as traumatizing as the shooting. When Marquez-Greene asked her son's teacher why she returned, she got an answer that made perfect sense to her as a parent.
"Because they are my kids," the teacher told her. "And my students need me now more than ever."
Marquez-Greene says that the courage of each teacher requires faith and deep love on their part. Her image of a hero, she tells us, is the everyday worker: the principal, school lunch worker, custodian, reading specialist, teacher or bus monitor.
"Real heroes don't wear capes. They work in America's schools," Marquez-Greene writes.
Opinion: Above all, teachers do it for the kids
While Marquez-Greene, the mental health director for the nonprofit organization Sandy Hook Promise, admits that she "almost lost her mind" when she had to return her son back to the classroom, she said they sent him back because they didn't want him to be afraid.
"Parents are sending their precious children to you this fall," she writes to the teachers. "Some will come fully prepared, and others not. They will come fed and with empty bellies. They will come from intact homes and fractured ones. Love them all."
How Georgia school hero kept shooter calm
Part of complete coverage on
CNN Schools of Thought helps parents, teachers and students learn what's happening in education.
February 24, 2014 -- Updated 2222 GMT (0622 HKT)
Some schools are combating high numbers of school cancellations with virtual school days.
March 4, 2014 -- Updated 1617 GMT (0017 HKT)
One school decided to cut out the classroom to see if students could learn lessons they need in a hands-on environment.
February 24, 2014 -- Updated 2213 GMT (0613 HKT)
February 17, 2014 -- Updated 2201 GMT (0601 HKT)
Here's how Scott Bedley's Irvine, California, fifth graders came to star in a Super Bowl commercial (and learn about the 50 states!)
February 11, 2014 -- Updated 1835 GMT (0235 HKT)
Some teachers are trying to incorporate the buzz new wearable technology into their classroom lessons.
February 3, 2014 -- Updated 1538 GMT (2338 HKT)
Can teachers become entrepreneurs? These educators are testing the waters.
January 8, 2014 -- Updated 1805 GMT (0205 HKT)
A CNN investigation found public universities across the country where many student athletes could read only up to an eighth-grade level.
February 3, 2014 -- Updated 2052 GMT (0452 HKT)
In a global economy, the benchmark for educational success is no longer improvement by national standards alone, but the best performing school systems internationally.
February 1, 2014 -- Updated 1411 GMT (2211 HKT)
C'mon, kids. Don't just sit there. Play. It's the first day of the New Year, so there's no better time to start.
December 4, 2013 -- Updated 2011 GMT (0411 HKT)
Should schools do more to monitor students' online interactions off-campus?
Today's five most popular stories