Every morning we drop our children off at school hoping their teachers will connect to them, educate them and inspire them. We do not expect them to save their lives.

I am sitting here with tears streaming down my face as the names are released of the six- and seven-year-olds, along with their teachers, who were brutally gunned down in their own school.

The terror is unimaginable. The grief unbearable.

The terror is unimaginable. The grief unbearable

But I refuse to let the pain paralyze me. I refuse to let the horror be what I take from this. I can’t. I won’t. I need to focus on the heroism. The inherent goodness within each and every one of those teachers. Their focus, their love, their passion, their dedication, their sacrifice.

There is a famous quote that teachers teach more by who they are than by what they teach. Teaching is not a job that begins at 9:00 AM and ends at 4:00. Being a teacher does not come with breaks. Being a teacher is not what you do, but who you are.

Sandy Hook had real teachers.

As the reports pour in, it is clear that in the midst of insanity, these men and women created a haven of calm, safety and love. We learned the devastating news that the school’s beloved principal was murdered as she lunged towards the gunman, hoping to stop him. There was the teacher who kept telling her students she loved them in case it was the last thing they heard, and the teacher who was shot and killed after hiding her students and telling the gunman that her kids were in the gym. Their acts of bravery and heroism are remarkable.

These teachers knew their lives were in danger. They must have been absolutely terrified. But they didn’t show it. They didn’t break. They didn’t make a run for it hoping to save themselves. They put their fear on hold and did whatever they needed to do to provide these children with the environment they needed. And undoubtedly, their actions and their heroism will help the healing process tremendously for these children.

There was the teacher who kept telling her students she loved them in case it was the last thing they heard

The staff at Sandy Hook taught me what it means to live a dedicated life. What it means to truly be an educator. And we are all educators. In different ways, in different relationships; everyone teaches in some aspect of his or her life. The question is, when we teach, are we giving over material, facts, and ideas, or are we giving over ourselves? Are we engaging with the one who is learning from us? Do we care about that individual? Do we focus on his or her unique needs? Are we truly dedicated?

I don’t want to focus on how these educators lost their lives, but on how they lived them. I want to think of their smiles and encouraging words when I am stuck in a rut. I want to be motivated by their long hours and focus when I feel burned out. And I want to make sure that my children know that I would do anything, absolutely anything, to keep them safe like the Sandy Hook teachers did for their students. Nothing can be done to bring back the lives that were tragically taken from us. But I can, I must, try to live a more inspired life, a more dedicated life, in their memory.