Lenexa man remembers Sandy Hook principal as 'very courageous' - KCTV5

Lenexa man remembers Sandy Hook principal as 'very courageous'

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Sandy Hook Elementary principal Dawn Hochsprung made the ultimate sacrifice. Sandy Hook Elementary principal Dawn Hochsprung made the ultimate sacrifice.
Friends of Hochsprung, including a retired superintendent in the Shawnee Mission School District, said when they heard reports of Hochsprung's heroic actions they didn't doubt it for a second. Friends of Hochsprung, including a retired superintendent in the Shawnee Mission School District, said when they heard reports of Hochsprung's heroic actions they didn't doubt it for a second.
After gunman Adam Lanza broke through the school door, gun blazing, school psychologist Mary Sherlach and Hochsprung ran toward him. After gunman Adam Lanza broke through the school door, gun blazing, school psychologist Mary Sherlach and Hochsprung ran toward him.
LENEXA, KS (KCTV) -

Sandy Hook Elementary principal Dawn Hochsprung made the ultimate sacrifice.

After gunman Adam Lanza broke through the school door, gun blazing, school psychologist Mary Sherlach and Hochsprung ran toward him.

Lanza killed 20 children and six adults, including Hochsprung, who died while lunging at the gunman, authorities said.

Friends of Hochsprung, including a retired superintendent in the Shawnee Mission School District, said when they heard reports of Hochsprung's heroic actions, they didn't doubt it for a second.

Dr. David Pendleton spent 14 years working in the Shawnee Mission district.  He was also superintendent of in the Basehor-Linwood School District. 

But most recently he left the metro for small town Connecticut, a place he calls most similar of anywhere on the east coast to Kansas and Missouri living.

Pendleton said it is a place where he met a woman he'll never forget.

As it so often happens, the worst side of human nature is revealing the best, in Newtown, CT.  That dynamic embodied, perhaps, most in the spirit of Hochsprung.

Out of the ruins of families that lost a precious child, sister or mother, out of a tight-knit town roiling with grief, glows one bright spot: the story of Hochsprung and other staff members who may have prevented further carnage through selfless actions and smart snap judgments.

"This was a very courageous principal," said Pendleton, who knew Hochsprung very well.

Pendleton spent six years in Connecticut,  with Hochsprung as one of his principals.  And when he learned the news, sitting in his Lenexa home, Pendleton knew one thing right away.

"She would protect her kids at any cost, and I knew the story would eventually unfold that Dawn had made some kind of attempt to stop this person, at her own life's expense," he said.

That was exactly the case, as Hochsprung died by lunging at the gunman, trying to stop him.

"She had character.  She has class, and it's just awful what has happened," Pendleton said.

For Pendleton, it is the kind of awful that anyone just can't seem to shake, but he thinks he knows why.

"It's no longer a question of it won't happen in my school. The question is when will it happen in my school. It can happen anywhere," he said.

And if one can't shake the feeling, Pendleton hopes that means real change will follow, but keeping one thing in mind.

"It can't become a building of security guards, gun-sniffing dogs, alarm systems and panic buttons. Anyone who has ever walked into an elementary building knows what that feels like and the comfort that you have, the feeling that I'm home.  We can't lose that," he said.

And there is one more thing Pendleton says can't be lost - having the courage to face the  tragedy, and the reality it reflects.

"I think one of the reasons that we shove these things aside so many times is because they're not personalized. Dawn was a very special person. I hope that all of Kansas City remembers Dawn, remembers the staff, remembers those kids and remember them as people," he said.

Pendleton also tried to imagine what he would do if he were still working in the schools, and how to help the children move past the tragedy.

He said the most important thing, both in Connecticut and closer to home, is to create a sense of safety of the school as that sanctuary they should be.

Copyright 2012 KCTV (Meredith Corp.)  All rights reserved.  The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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