Originally published on Savvy Auntie.
“I can still hear her voice the day she called me and said, ‘Aunt Debbie, I got a job teaching first grade in Newtown,’” said Victoria Soto’s aunt and godmother, Debbie Cronk, during her niece’s funeral service on December 19, in hometown Stratford, Connecticut. “I think I was more excited than she was.”
Just twenty miles south of Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Victoria’s friends and loved ones gathered in Lordship Community Church to pay their respects and share memories of the fallen 27-year-old teacher who sacrificed her life to save her students from the armed invasion.
As Victoria’s professional inspiration, Aunt Debbie recalled her niece’s love for Christmas and how she would gift Victoria with an ornament each year to save for her future home with her own Christmas tree. This year, Aunt Debbie gave Victoria an ornament “to take with her to heaven.”
The New York Times reports that among the precious memories of her goddaughter, Aunt Debbie “also remembered her mischievous side, how as a little girl [Victoria] loved feeding the ducks near her grandmother’s house, though not as much as eating the bread herself.”
Victoria’s sister, Carlee Soto, informed the Today show on December 16 that the young teacher had always aspired to teach, as their aunt had done in the past:
[Students] just brought a smile to her face, always. She would come home with stories of what the kids did that day and how they were progressing so well and how they would just make her laugh with stories from home. She loved those students more than anything. She didn’t call them her students. She called them her kids… This is always what she wanted to do. My aunt was a teacher. She wanted to follow in my aunt’s footsteps, and she did.