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.


One Response 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.


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