From the horror that happened at Sandy Hook Elementary School on Friday, a hero emerged that will never be forgotten. Victoria Soto, age 27, demonstrated how heroic and selfless she was by putting the lives of her students above her own. The first-grade teacher was in the process of trying to get her students into a closet when the gunman came in. Soto ended up placing her body between them and the assailant knowing all too well she was sacrificing her life for theirs.
When the shooting rampage was finished, Soto was among the six adults and 20 children killed by 20-year-old Adam Lanza. Lanza would take his own life as well as his mother’s, who was discovered in a different location. While police are trying to find a motive for the killing spree, it is no surprise that Soto sacrificed her life for her students.
Sabeena Ali, a parent whose daughter was in Soto’s class two years ago, talked to People magazine about her devotion to kids. “It doesn’t surprise me at all she would do this.” She continued to describe her as a “”vibrant woman who loved the kids and would be with the kids and spend time with them and sit on the floor with them.” Her daughter, now a third grader, still idolized her two years after the fact. Ali said, “Every day there was some new Miss Soto story we had to listen to: “This is what she did, this is how wonderful she was today. She would bring in snacks for the kids and do special days.”
In speaking with ABC News, Jim Wiltsie, her cousin, described the type of person she was and was also not surprised by her selflessness. “She was found huddled over her children, her students, doing instinctively what she knew was the right thing. I’m just proud that Vicki had the instincts to protect her kids from harm,” he continued. “It brings peace to know that Vicki was doing what she loved, protecting the children and in our eyes she’s a hero.”
He continued by saying, “She was trying to shield, getting her children into a closet and protect them from harm. And by doing that put herself between the gunman and the children and that is when she was tragically shot and killed.” Wiltsie commented on how the family has taken some comfort in the realization that she died while doing a job that she passionately loved doing. “Her life dream was to be a teacher and her instincts kicked in when she saw there was harm coming towards her students. She lost her life doing what she loved. She loved her kids. Her goal in life was to be a teacher to mould young minds.”
In looking at Soto’s teacher profile, it says that she was at Sandy Hook for five years. Her first two years was spent as an intern where she was a long-term substitute teacher for one third-grade classroom and two second-grade classrooms.
Soto graduated from Eastern Connecticut State University with degrees in History and Elementary Education and was pursuing a master’s degree at Southern Connecticut State University in Special Education; there is a picture above her profile that shows her holding her black Labrador named Roxie. The dog is standing on her hind legs with a caption that reads, “In my free time, I love to spend time with [my] black lab Roxie.” Also on her profile it says, “I look forward to an amazing year in the first grade with my amazing students of room 10!”
Remembering Vicki Soto, 27 Sandy Hook teacher
Sandy Hook Elementary School first-grade teacher Vicki Soto tried to shield her students from the maniacal shooter.