In a time of such tragedy it is easy to turn to blame and hatred. Was it easy access to guns? His mental illness? His parents didn’t pay enough to him and/or warning signs? We may never know the answers to these questions. I believe we all need to take this time to draw our focus to our everyday heroes across this country. Our teachers and para-professionals are often looked on as dispensable, unproductive, or “having it easy with summers off”. It seems all to easy to cut these positions when budgets are tight. They are often too easily blamed for failing students, failing schools and behavior problems. As we have seen in the reports that are coming out from this awful tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School we have become more aware of how much these men and women are a part of our children's lives. These well trained professional educators who are masters at what they do. They complete rigorous course work and dedicate many hours of preparation in an effort to educate our children. What we often don’t think about is the extra care that goes into to being one of these exemplary professionals. Everyday we trust our most precious children with these educators as they teach our children, care for our children and protect our children. Aside from providing our children with an education they often take the time to be sure our children are fed daily, have appropriate clothing to where, assess and assist with various family and emotional issues as well as language and cultural barriers. They teach them values, how to care for each other, how to care for themselves. These professionals are also tasked with the job of teaching our children how to be safe. Safe at home and safe at school. When tragedy like this strikes they are often the ones parents come to for advise on how to talk with their children and support them. Students also utilize these professionals for support, advise, and comfort as well. As evidenced by the recent tragedy at Sandy Hook these men and women would give and have given their own lives to protect OUR children. I see this first hand through my wife (a 2nd grade teacher in New Haven) and in my children's school (also in New Haven kindergarten and 2nd grade). These are not soldiers or law enforcement. They don't prepare for "the worse case scenario" but they are prepared better the lives of our children at any cost. These men and women are everyday heroes that impact all of our lives. Please continue to support and respect ALL of these hard working selfless individuals. Thank a teacher and/ para-professional today!!