16 Teachers Added To National Memorial To Fallen Educators This Year

By Erika Hanson | 4 days ago

fallen educators

Teachers play a critical role in shaping the lives of our youth. Now, more than ever, Americans understand just how important that role is. Educators haven’t just been teaching our children, they are now being tasked with protecting them as well. Honoring this, a fallen educators memorial now exists in Emporia, Kansas. This year, 16 teachers were added to the memorable etchings, during a somber service. 

The National Memorial to Fallen Educators honors school staff who have been killed in the line of duty. Heroic teachers like Irma Garcia, and Eva Mireles, the two 4th grade teachers who shielded their classroom students from gunfire during the recent Uvalde, Texas shooting, are among some of the new names being etched into the memorial slab this year. However, this monument honors all fallen teachers, regardless of the manner in which their lives were tragically taken.

Angel Hayes was a kindergarten teacher in Neosho, Missouri. She was killed by a car in the elementary school pickup line in 2018. A principal in West Park, Florida, Jovan Rembert, had his life taken too soon when he was struck by a car while checking on the safety of students who had just been involved in a bus accident in 2020. Sandra Goodman was a bus driver in Georgia. In 2021, her life was taken after she attempted to repair a school bus. All of these fallen educators’ names are now honored at this Kansas memorial.

The memorial was pioneered in 2014 following the deadly mass shooting that claimed the lives of six fallen educators and 20 elementary students in the Sandy Hook Elementary school massacre. With the six teachers as the first to have their names etched into the stone, the group spearheading the project set off to find other fallen educators through the years. After the first year, they had added 114 names to the granite slabs that are shaped like books. 

After 2014, there would be an annual rededication ceremony held at the site, where new names of fallen educators would be added each year. In 2018, President Donald Trump signed legislation declaring the site a national memorial. As more teachers and school employees needed to be added to the growing list each year, the organization added a new slab in 2019. That book is now almost filled, and a new slab will soon be needed.

At this year’s ceremony held last Friday, June 17th, education officials and politicians from across the nation attended – some giving speeches.  Senator Roger Marshall of Kansas was one such speaker. The Republican Senator has recently pushed for a bill that would allow schools to use relief funds to ramp up school safety measures and pay the salaries of armed security officers. Marshall left the politics for another day during the fallen educator’s ceremony, and instead focused on discussing the heroic line of duty.

Another speaker was not as reserved at keeping his viewpoints on school safety checked at the door. Anthony Salvatore, who was the assistant principal at Sandy Hook Elementary during the deadly shooting spoke at the fallen educators ceremony as well. During his speech, he urged lawmakers not to blame mental illness as the cause of mass shootings. He also mentioned assault rifles, saying, “I’m not sure people understand what happens to adults and little children when an AR-15 rips through their bodies. It dissolves them. That’s why they need DNA samples to identify [their bodies]—there’s nothing left. Nothing.”

fallen educators

This year’s ceremony dedicated to the 16 fallen educators added to the growing memorial came at a contentious time for America amid school debates. As a historic year for school violence, Americans fight over how schools can be made safer for all students. Some call for hardening the schools, and others want more gun restrictions. If anything, however, this memorial serves as a reminder that at the heart of the discussion, it’s crucial to remember the fallen educators that have led to this point.