Retired Tupelo educators remember visit to Sandy Hook

By JB Clark/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – For two retired Tupelo educators, the news of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School hit especially close to home.
Sue Shepherd and Cindy Faucette were part of a team of teachers who traveled to Newtown, Conn., in the 1990s to observe classrooms and learn teaching methods used at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
Faucette taught at Church Street Elementary School and Shepherd at Rankin Elementary School at the time. They were both shocked and saddened by the news of the shooting that took the lives of 20 children and six educators at the Connecticut school on Friday.
“I watched (the news) all day because it was such a shock,” Shepherd said. “They said on the news it was such a peaceful community and it was. It was in the woods and the school was secluded and the people were all so nice. It was like a fairy-tale village almost – somewhere everyone would want to live.”
Faucette echoed Shepherd, “I called my husband and said, ‘Do you think we could move up here and you could commute to Tupelo?’ I can’t even express how peaceful it was.”
Neither former teacher could remember the exact year of the trip, but it was well over a decade ago.
Shepherd said they went to seek more information about a method of teaching that incorporated play and real-life examples into the daily lessons – similar to the new Common Core method, she said.
Some of the skills they brought back Shepherd attributes to helping Rankin Elementary School achieve Blue Ribbon status.
“Everything was just so pastoral,” Shepherd said. “When the people that live there say it was a shock, that’s exactly the way I felt. I just can’t begin to describe that town and how perfect it was. There were pastures around the houses and brooks that ran through town. I remember deer would wander right up to the school because it was on the edge of the woods.”
Faucette said the trip stemmed from a donation the Tupelo Public School District got from the Hancock Foundation, allowing teachers to receive extra training and travel to other schools. Shepherd said they also visited schools in Seattle, Texas and Florida.
jb.clark@journalinc.com