On Dec. 14, 2012, in the first classroom of Sandy Hook Elementary School, first grade teacher Kaitlin Roig-DeBellis endured unimaginable tragedy. The heroic teacher is credited with saving the lives of all 15 of her students by acting quickly upon hearing the sounds of gunfire and locking them all in a small bathroom until the ‘good guys’ came to let her know that it was over and they were now safe to come out.
Kaitlin M. Roig-DeBellis has since created impactful, positive change in the world. She is the Founder & Executive Director of Classes 4 Classes, Inc, a 501(c)3 organization. Classes 4 Classes is a social network, for every student in the US to engage in social emotional learning. Classes 4 Classes has worked with over 7,000 students in 36 states. Due to her work, in 2016, Kaitlin was selected as a Top 50 Teacher by The Global Teacher Prize, out of over 8,500 teachers in 155 countries.
Kaitlin speaks internationally, sharing her story. Kaitlin is the author of ‘Choosing Hope: Overcoming Life’s Darkest Hours’ published by G.P. Putnam & Penguin. Choosing Hope was a finalist in the category of memoir for The Books For a Better Life Award. Kaitlin now teaches 2 undergraduate Education courses, as well as, a graduate course she created called ‘Choosing Hope’ at Bay Path University as an Adjunct Professor. She shares the tenets of her book and the course she created in workshops across the country.
Kaitlin serves on UConn’s NEAG Alumni Association Board of Directors. In October 2014, Kaitlin received the alumni association’s Humanitarian Award from her alma mater, The University of Connecticut. In May 2014, Kaitlin received two Honorary Doctorates, one of Humane Letters from Bay Path University and the other of Public Service from Luzerne College. Kaitlin delivered a TED x talk at UMass Amherst in 2014. Kaitlin and Classes 4 Classes have been featured in: People, Glamour, Marie Claire, and Cosmopolitan, as well as, on World News with Diane Sawyer, Anderson Cooper, Katie Couric, Extra and Yahoo News!
In 2013 Kaitlin received the Dedicated Teacher Award from The Chicago International Conference on Education. Kaitlin writes for the Huffington Post and Thrive Global. Kaitlin also contributed to the book ‘Teaching From the Heart’ volume 2, published in May 2014. Kaitlin ran the NYC marathon, in honor of 12/14/12, and the lives lost.
In 2013 Kaitlin was honored as one of Glamour Magazine’s Women of the Year along side Nobel Prize nominee Malala Yousafzai, among others. Previous Glamour Women of the year include Former First Lady and teacher, Laura Bush and Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Also in 2013, Kaitlin was honored by L’Oreal Paris as one of their “L’Oreal Paris Women of Worth” of which she was one of “10 Inspiring Women Making Beautiful Differences in their Communities.”
In 2007 Kaitlin began teaching first grade at Sandy Hook Elementary School. There she served on the Math Committee, Language Arts Committee, Action Research Committee, and Social Committee. She also began Marathon Mondays, a running club for students. Kaitlin began her teaching career as a Reading Specialist in Westport, CT in 2006.
Kaitlin attended UConn and was accepted to the NEAG School of Education, where she completed her Masters of Education with honors in 2006. She was a member of Order of Omega honor society, The Historical honor society and the NEAG honor society, and was named a New England Scholar in 2005. Kaitlin served as the Historian for the NEAG Student Association and was a member of Kappa Kappa Gamma where she served as Membership Chair, Recording Secretary, and on the Scholarship Committee. She worked as an intercollegiate athlete tutor to refine study skills and plan essays, as well as a study hall monitor for the UConn Men’s Soccer team. In 2013 Kaitlin Roig-DeBellis was interviewed by her alma mater, UConn, about Classes 4 Classes.