NAESP Recognizes Principal Heroism With Hochsprung Memorial

Communicator May 2016, Volume 39, Issue 9

May 2016, Volume 39, Issue 9

Every principal remembers where they were when they first heard of the tragic events in Newtown, Connecticut. Many would come to learn of the incredible sacrifice that Dawn Hochsprung made to save the lives of children she served as principal of Sandy Hook elementary. In 2014, the NAESP Board of Directors established the Dawn Hochsprung Tree of Life Memorial to honor her life and service, as well as the lives and service of others who have made extraordinary sacrifices as school leaders.

Recently, several principals were selected to be honored as part of the memorial. Their names are to be engraved on the memorial and a scrapbook page created in their honor. The following stories highlight the work of these dedicated principals, and how they were valued by their schools and communities.

Susan Jordan
On Tues., Jan. 26, 2016, principal Susan Jordan was outside her elementary school supervising bus dismissal time, an action she did every day to see her students off for the day. Tragically, a corporation school bus unexpectedly jumped the curb in front of Jordan, endangering her and many students walking on the sidewalk. Heroically, Jordan pushed several students and a staff member out of the direct path of the bus, saving their lives. In doing so, she was directly struck by the bus and passed away from her injuries.

Jordan served as the principal at Amy Beverland Elementary School in the MSD of Lawrence Township for 22 years. She previously served in numerous other teaching and administrative roles for the corporation over her 32 year career in Lawrence Township schools. During her tenure with the corporation, which is located on the northeast side of Indianapolis, Indiana, Jordon exhibited a passion for students and had a remarkable way of making everyone she came in contact with feel valued and important.

As only the second principal in the school, Jordan built a culture of excellence at Amy Beverland, establishing it as a Four Star School and an “A” rated school as recognized by the Indiana Department of Education. She is referred to as a “legend” because of her tremendous leadership and professionalism. Her love and dedication to her students, staff, and the entire Amy Beverland family showed every day.

Kevin Lein
Harrisburg, South Dakota
Kevin Lein is an impassioned educator whose tenacity and vision for individualizing students’ education has earned him a national reputation as a leader in customized learning. Creating a major shift in pedagogy is always a challenge for educators and being the leader of this change charges you with the positives and negatives that come with a secondary change to an established institution.

Lein’s extraordinary sacrifice has been to put himself, his reputation, his time, and his passion ahead of self and into the lives and education of his students. You will not find a greater champion for learners.

His student-first mentality was never more on display than on the morning of Sept. 30, 2015. A troubled new student entered his office at Harrisburg High School, in Harrisburg, South Dakota, with a handgun. The student fired a shot at Lein’s head. Fortunately, the bullet entered Lein’s elbow, only creating a flesh wound to the chest and a puncture wound to his arm.

Minutes after being shot and examined by medical personnel, the emergency team was trying to escort him to an ambulance. Lein insisted he be allowed to address the student body over the intercom before leaving. His message was to inform students of what occurred, ensure them of their safety, and express his care for them. He ended with, “Have a good day.”

Ryan Rollinger
Harrisburg, South Dakota
Ryan Rollinger’s story builds off of that of Kevin Lein. After the principal had been shot, although uncertain to this day, the young man seemed to be preparing his gun for another shot when assistant principal Rollinger appeared at the principal’s door. Rather than moving away from the shooter, Rollinger approached him. The shooter then ran toward the exit. Rollinger chased him for 50 yards, caught him as he was exiting the lobby, and tackled him to the ground. He was able to disarm the shooter and move the gun away from his grip. He subdued the shooter until police arrived.

Due to Rollinger’s heroic actions, it is assured that no one else was injured and the safety of HHS was secured. In most instances, a situation such as this would have led to escape rather than confrontation. The bravery and courage of Rollinger saved the lives of uncounted individuals.

If you are interested in more information, please contact your state association or Kara Boyer at

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