Victoria Leigh Soto was born on November 4, 1985. She was an American teacher killed in the shooting on December 14, 2012, at the Sandy Hook Elementary School. Soto has since been hailed as a hero for hiding her students and getting killed while trying to protect them after the gunman, Adam Lanza, entered the school and opened fire. She was awarded the Presidential Citizens Medal posthumously. In late 2012 and 2013, plans and petitions to name scholarships, roads, and schools after her were announced. Unanimously, the Stratford Town Council approved naming a school after Soto. While the City of Bayamón in Puerto Rico, where Soto’s father was born, planned to name a public facility after her.
Victoria Leigh Soto, a hero who gave her life to save her students, showed that the young lives were more valuable than her own. She was born to Carlos and Donna Fagan-Soto in Bridgeport, Connecticut, United States. Her father is a Puerto Rican native and worked as a crane operator for the Connecticut Department of Transportation. While her mother is an Irish-American who worked as a nurse at Bridgeport Hospital. Her parents raised Soto, her two sisters, Jillian and Carlee, and her brother, Carlos Matthew. She graduated in 2004 from Stratford High School and Eastern Connecticut State University with bachelor’s degrees in education and history. Afterward, she enrolled in graduate studies at Southern Connecticut State University.
Soto died on December 14, 2012, at the age of 27. She was with her first-grade class teaching them at Sandy Hook Elementary School when Adam Lanza entered and began to shoot staff and students in the building. Soto’s class was entered after Lanza had killed two teachers and 15 students in the first class. Upon Lanza’s entrance, Soto had hidden her students in closets and cupboards and informed him that the children were not present and were instead at the school gym. While her 16 students were not harmed, the gunman shot Soto, who leaped in front to cover some students attempting to run from the gunman.
Soto will not be forgotten as scholarships, roads, schools, and even buildings bear her name as a memorial. She represents sacrifice and love. The photograph of Soto’s sister on her mobile phone waiting for the news about her was captured by an associated press photographer, Jessica Hill, and has become iconic and a symbol of the tragedy.
Soto completes her high school studies at Stratford High School in Connecticut.
Soto graduates from Eastern Connecticut State University with degrees in education and history.
The Eastern Connecticut State University's Department of History creates an award in memory of Soto for a graduating senior in the History program who plans to pursue a career in education.
In commemoration of Soto, Victoria Soto Memorial Playground is named in her honor at Longbrook Park in Stratford, Connecticut.
The inauguration and opening of Victoria Soto School, named in her honor, is to serve students in pre-kindergarten through second grade.
Why We Love Victoria Leigh Soto
She was truly selfless
Soto’s sister acknowledged her as truly selfless. She said she would not be hesitant to think of saving anyone else before herself, especially children.
She was a fun teacher
Her priority was to shape young minds, but she was also known as the fun teacher. A huge part of her life was the children she taught and saved at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
She was a heroic role model
Soto was a remarkable young lady who died a heroic death. She serves not only as a model to her siblings but to everyone.
5 Surprising Facts
Teaching was her childhood dream
Teaching had been her dream since she was three years old, following in the footsteps of her beloved Auntie Debbie.
A positive influence on her family members
Soto also genuinely considered her family the most important part of her life for which she was passionate about instilling the value of higher education, particularly in her siblings.
Demonstrated that teaching was a life commitment
Victoria Leigh Soto 2016 Award recipient Annie Chozick, remarked that Soto demonstrated that teaching is not just a job but a lifestyle and a commitment to one’s students.
A memorial fund for her was established
The Stratford High School Class of 2003, on December 17, 2012, established the Victoria L. Soto Memorial Fund, which donations help to pay for her funeral services as well as the creation of a memorial and a scholarship fund in her honor.
An honorary award was created
Created in honor of Soto, the Nutmeg Big Brothers Big Sisters organization established the Victoria Soto Volunteer Award.
Victoria Leigh Soto FAQs
How many people with Victoria Leigh Soto were killed?
Adam Lanza, the gunman, shot and killed six adults and 20 students at the school before killing himself as the police arrived.
Was anyone else honored posthumously?
Soto and five other adult teachers and administrators killed were awarded the Presidential Citizens Medal posthumously on February 15, 2013.
How did Soto save her students?
Soto huddled her first-grade students into a closet and cupboards. She hastily moved others to safety, and then confronted the determined invading gunman to divert him away from his class.
Victoria Leigh Soto’s birthday dates