Memorial honors and uplifts educators

Ruth Berg. John Carlson. Daniel Buesgens. Richard Lee Proffitt. Scott Beigel. Aaron Feis. Chris Hixon. Jennifer Williamson. Glenda Ann Perkins. Cynthia Tisdale.

These teachers, coaches, and education support professionals were killed between August 2017 and May of this year. Their names are etched onto the Memorial to Fallen Educators, part of the National Teachers Hall of Fame (NTHF) at Emporia State University, and were unveiled this week. NEA 2018 Education Support Professional of the Year Sherry Shaw will be among the speakers at the memorial’s rededication.

Five of the school staff members were killed during school shootings—Beigel, a teacher, Feis, a a football coach, and Hixon, an athletic director, died in February at Florida’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas, and substitute teachers Perkins and Tisdale died at Santa Fe High School in Texas in May.

Carlson, a custodian, and a Berg, a receptionist, died in a natural gas explosion at their Minneapolis school. Buesgens, a building and grounds employee, fell from a ladder, in Chaska, Minn. In Bristow, Va., Proffitt, a school bus driver, died in crash involving another school bus. And in New Jersey, Williamson, a teacher, was killed in a bus accident while on a field trip.

All of them died while doing their jobs: protecting, teaching, or transporting students.

The idea for the Memorial to Fallen Educators stemmed largely from the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. nearly six years ago. Six educators were killed on that Friday in December 2012. Members of the National Teachers Hall of Fame board decided that educators who lost their lives “in the line of duty” deserved to be memorialized.

The black granite memorial lists more than 100 educators, whose deaths date from as far back as 1763. An online directory tells the stories behind the names.

Sadly, room has run out on the memorial; the recent deaths will fill the two granite books. The Hall of Fame is raising funds for new books. For information about donating, go to

The NEA, along with several NEA state affiliates, is proud to be a donor to the Memorial to Fallen Educators and a supporter of the Hall of Fame, which recognizes and honors exceptional teachers. Both are fitting and lasting tributes to the educators across our nation who do all they can to inspire and nurture young people, and to those who have sometimes sacrificed their very lives while on the job.


2 Responses to “Memorial honors and uplifts educators”

  1. Mark Andrews

    Well said. If there is an organization anyone is considering supporting, I would like to suggest the NTHF is worth your consideration.
    Full disclosure: I serve as an NTHF Trustee. I know this organization desires to promote, honor, recognize, cherish, and celebrate this nation’s educators, rich history, and promising future. Every contribution is considered significant and needed in supporting this grass roots effort to continue heralding the importance and excellence of America’s EDUCATORS.

  2. Dr. Tony Salvatore

    There is no greater honor to professional educators and educational personnel than the National Teachers Hall of Fame and the National Memorial To Fallen Educators. Both locations are breathtaking tributes to the heroes in our schools.
    As the Assistant Principal at Sandy Hook School in 2011-2012, the year before the shooting on December 14, 2012, I was honored to speak at the dedication of the Memorial on June 12, 2014 in recognition of my six colleagues and 20 first graders whom I worked with and cherished. I was also there representing Diann Woodard, President of the American Federation of School Administrators (AFSA) who passed away this year.
    On June 21, 2018, I was honored to speak again at the rededication of the Memorial and to celebrate its recognituon as a National monument by the United States Congress. I was humbled to present to the NTHF’s museum a dreamcatcher that was made and given to the students at Columbine High School in 1999; then brought to Red Lake High School in Red Lake, Minnesota after their school shooting in 2005; then driven overnight by four student survivors from Red Lake to Newtown, CT (some 1500 miles) in 2012 as a sign of comfort and hope for the Sandy Hook community; then to Marysville Pilchuck High School In Marysville, Washington in 2014; then to Townville, Elementary School in Townville, SC in 2016; and then to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL in 2018 where it was decided that the dreamcatcher should never travel again, but rather should be housed in a place of honor and available to all people around the world to see as a sign of hope and dreams and comfort and love.
    The only place that was appropriate was the museum at the National Teachers Hall of Fame in Emporia, Kansas.
    I urge ALL teachers, administrators, Board of Education members, parents, students and citizens to visit and support the NTHF and the National Memorial To Fallen Educators. As a lifelong NEA member, I am proud of their support of the NTHF as well as that of the AFT and other edcuational organizations.


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