Left: Kaitlin Roig-DeBellis ’05 (ED), ’06 MA signs copies of her new book, Choosing Hope. Right: Roig-DeBellis with attendees of her book signing at the UConn Co-Op Bookstore. (Credit: Neag School of Education)
“I live every day wishing I could go back to December 13, back to who I was, who my kids were, back to our school with those who were taken on that day and the life I would have never in a million years have changed,” wrote Kaitlin Roig-DeBellis in her new book Choosing Hope: Moving Forward from Life’s Darkest Hours, published by D.B. Putnam’s Sons. Roig-DeBellis led a conversation and signing for her book at the UConn Co-Op Bookstore on Oct. 21.
Roig-DeBellis, who earned a bachelor’s and master’s degree at UConn’s Neag School of Education, was a first-grade teacher at Sandy Hook Elementary School. She survived the tragic school shooting in December 2012 by hiding with her students in a bathroom. Six fellow staff members and 20 children were killed.
“I decided that if, by sharing my personal story, I could help even one person through his or her darkest hour, then that was what I needed to do. I quickly realized that helping them was healing me,” she said.
“I will bear witness to the trauma my students and I suffered, and, even more significantly, the acts of heroism that day, and the generosity of others that poured into our broken community afterward. I write about my personal experience for the purpose of clarify and perspective. It is that which led me to the path I walk today,” she wrote.
Roig-DeBellis chose not to despair after the tragedy. She chose to hope—and to act, founding a nonprofit, Classes 4 Classes, that promotes kindness, empathy, and giving between classrooms across the country.