STRATFORD, Conn. – The mayor of Stratford, Conn., is proposing to name a school after Vicki Soto, the heroic teacher who died while trying to protect her students during the Dec. 14 massacre in nearby Newtown.
Mayor John Harkins says the bravery shown by Victoria Soto should never be forgotten.
As the bullets flew toward her first-grade students who she had huddled in a corner for protection, the 27-year old teacher flung herself in front the barrage to save them. She paid for her bravery and courage with her life.
“She’s definitely a hero,” Jim Wiltsie, Soto’s cousin, told ABC’s Good Morning America. “Her life dream was to be a teacher and her instincts kicked in and protected her children from the harm that was coming.”
On Monday Harkins proposed to give Soto's name to a new school. Construction is set to begin this summer.
The name must be approved by the town council, which is expected to take up the matter on Jan. 14.
Soto was from all accounts a model teacher, daughter and citizen.
The young educator lived with her parents, her sisters and a brother in Stratford in a modest Cape Cod-style house. She was single, spent time worshipping at the Lordship Community Church in Stratford and had a soft spot for her pet black Labrador, Roxy.
Her mother, Donna, was a nurse at Bridgeport Hospital for 30 years and her father, Carlos, worked for the Connecticut Department of Transportation as a crane operator. Vicki was special to her father, friends said, and it was his job to identify his child’s body following the shooting.
“He always talked about her,” Gary Verbanic, who works with Carlos Soto, told The New York Daily News. “He loved her like you wouldn’t believe. Every time he spoke to her on the phone, he was cheerful.”
“I’m heartbroken” Verbanic added. “She was an amazing person.”
With reporting by The Associated Press.