Dawn Hochsprung
Dawn Hochsprung

Dawn Lafferty Hochsprung was the principal of Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, and a doctoral candidate in Russell Sage College’s Esteves School of Education’s Educational Leadership program. On December 14, 2012, she and 25 others were victims of one of the nation’s most tragic school shootings.

The Dawn Lafferty Hochsprung Center for the Promotion of Mental Health and School Safety was established at Russell Sage College in 2013 in her honor. The mission of the center is to explore, develop and share solutions that promote mental health and safe learning environments for all children. The vision of the Hochsprung Center maintains that it is a responsibility shared by all to ensure our schools are places where children, and the adults who work with them, are safe to learn and grow. This mission and vision honor Dawn Hochsprung’s work as the center works to advance her legacy.

To further that legacy, the Department of Educational Leadership at Sage is establishing the Dawn Lafferty Hochsprung Graduate Fellowship — an award for advanced scholarly research in the areas of mental health and/or school safety. Doctoral students in Sage’s Educational Leadership program who are completing their dissertation are eligible to apply.

The Department of Educational Leadership anticipates awarding the fellowship annually beginning in spring 2022. 

Since Columbine in 1999, there have been over 285 school shootings, which includes the 20 students and six adults who died at Sandy Hook. Most recently, four students died and seven seven students were injured at Oxford High School in Oakland County, Michigan. It is tragic that a whole generation of children have grown up with the fear of a school shooting. As Sage doctoral students explore the social-emotional implications this is having on school communities, the EDL program offers this fellowship for doctoral research in the area of mental health and school safety to advance new practices.  

“As we approach the ninth anniversary of the tragedy at Sandy Hook, we must reflect on the fears harbored by children across our country,” said Jerome Steele, Ed.D., assistant professor and chair of Sage’s Educational Leadership program and director of the Hochsprung Center. “Hopefully, the research that emerges from the Hochsprung Fellowship will help to mitigate these fears.”

Anyone wishing to contribute to the mission of the Hochsprung Center may make a donation online by going to https://www.sage.edu/alumnae-i/giving/ .

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