The tragedy in Newtown, Conn., touches people in many different ways. On Morning Edition and at WNYC.org, the station’s Brigid Bergin tells the story of Kyle Mangieri, a 7th grade social studies teacher at a school in nearby Fairfield, Conn.
Mangieri lives in Newtown, “right at the base of the hill that leads up to Sandy Hook Elementary School,” Brigid reports.
As news spread about Friday’s shooting rampage that left 20 first-graders and six adults dead at the school, Mangieri “started to lose his focus,” says Brigid.
“At 12:30 when I had a break I looked at my phone again and I had a bunch of missed texts,” says Mangieri. That was when he told his school’s principal that he needed to go home.
What Mangieri saw in Newtown was heart-breaking:
“Frantic parents rushing up that hill to the school. Many walked back with their children, often in tears. Others returned alone. ‘They looked like zombies,’ Mangieri says. ‘They literally looked like they’d been given the worst news of their life.’ “
This weekend, Mangieri made a banner saying “God Bless Sandy Hook” and hung it from a front window at his house. And his family gave a church group space on the front lawn to set up a display of Christmas lights spelling out the words “FAITH, “HOPE” and “LOVE.”
Today at Mangieri’s school in Fairfield, the plan is for teachers and staff to meet students as they arrive and then lock the doors once everyone is inside. “That was never the case before,” he says.
And though his class is studying geography now, Mangieri expects that subject may have to be set aside. As Brigid says: “His students know where he lives. And he knows they’ll have questions.”