How Sandy Hook Teacher is Paying it Forward

Kaitlin Roig-DeBellis has lived through the unimaginable. As a first grade teacher, she never thought that she would help save the lives of 15 of her students. But when a shooter rampaged through Sandy Hook Elementary School where she taught, killing 20 children and 6 adults, that’s just what she did. She huddled with her class in a small bathroom, comforting the children and keeping them calm.

After that horror filled day in December 2012, Kaitlin was struck by the kindness that poured into the town and school. Books, teddy bears, and other gifts were sent from all over the country to brighten the days of children and families who had experienced the worst. The generous acts inspired Katilin to create Classes 4 Classes, an organization designed to teach kindness and give to others.

Katilin was recently named one of Glamour Magazine's Women of the Year for her heroism. In an interview with the magazine she told them, "I didn't want this to define me or my kids. They were so happy with their gifts, but I wanted to teach them that you have to give back too.” She wanted to see this kindness shown all the time--not just in the face of tragedy.

Her method for achieving this is Classes 4 Classes. The organization lets elementary school classes raise money for educational gifts (such as iPads, field trips, art supplies, and more) for other classrooms. The classroom receiving the gift will pay it forward and raise funds to buy a gift for another classroom. The hope is that the classrooms will use these gifts to continue teaching about caring for others and showing kindness.

Kaitlin believes that teaching children about kindness and love is the key to avoiding tragedies like the one she and her students lived through. In a letter Kaitlin wrote on the organizations website, she says, “When we teach kindness, compassion, caring, love and empathy, then there is no room for hate. If every student is able to experience this, just imagine what our world will be like."

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