Teachers and staff who died on school grounds across the country over the past year, including those killed in school shootings, were added to the National Memorial for Fallen Educators in Emporia on Thursday.
The memorial was created in 2013 in reaction to the school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, that killed 20 students and six staff members at Sandy Hook Elementary. The Memorial for Fallen Educators was designated a national memorial in May.
This year’s rededication ceremony honored 10 teachers and school personnel who died since August of last year. Five of the educators were killed in school shootings in Sante Fe, Texas; and Parkland, Florida.
Michael Connell laid a white rose for his younger brother, Aaron Feis, an assistant coach who was killed in the Parkland, Florida, school shooting in February.
“If he was here he’d be in the corner,” Connell said. “He’s not all about recognition, you know? But he deserves it.”
Connell said he was almost lost halfway through the dedication, overwhelmed by the number of educators being remembered. He said he wants change, but doesn’t know what the answers are.
“It’s definitely a symptom of a greater problem of the heart,” Connell said. “I don’t know how to fix that.”
The memorial features two granite sculptures shaped like open books. The names of those killed are inscribed onto the black pages in gold. Only eight of the 10 honored educators were added this year; there is no more room to add the names of those killed in Sante Fe last month. The memorial is raising funds to add a third book and hoping to add the remaining names this summer.
“I greatly appreciate it, but I really don’t want to see a third book,” said Natalie Hixon, who lost her brother, Chris Hixon, in the Parkland school shooting. “But that’s how our American society is.”
The names added this year include:
Ruth Berg -- Minneapolis, Minnesota
John Carlson -- Minneapolis, Minnesota
Daniel Buesgens -- Chaska, Minnesota
Richard Lee Proffitt -- Bristow, Virginia
Scott Beigel -- Parkland, Florida
Aaron Feis -- Parkland, Florida
Chris Hixon -- Parkland, Florida
Jennifer Williamson -- Paramus, New Jersey
Glenda Ann Perkins -- Santa Fe, Texas
Cynthia Tisdale -- Santa Fe, Texas
Stephan Bisaha, based at KMUW in Wichita, is an education reporter for the Kansas News Service, a collaboration of KMUW, Kansas Public Radio, KCUR and High Plains Public Radio covering health, education and politics. Follow him on Twitter @SteveBisaha. Kansas News Service stories and photos may be republished at no cost with proper attribution and a link back to the original post.