TODAY

TODAY   |  December 13, 2013

Dad of fallen Newtown teacher: 'She loved the school'

Gilles and Joyce Rousseau talk about how the community is coming together to honor Lauren Rousseau, who was killed one year ago in the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn., with a scholarship in her name.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> tomorrow marks the one year anniversary since the unthinkable happened. the shooting at sandy hook elementary school in newtown connecticut .

>> 26 students and teachers lost their lives today and this morning we honor those that died including a brave substitute teacher trying to protect her first graders.

>> reporter: she was having the best year of her life. she had her dream job teaching young kids, a new boyfriend, and a tight knit family nearby. it's been said that lauren was the glue that kept everyone together. a loving daughter and caring friend.

>> we're coming on the air from new york with word of a school shooting at an elementary school in fairfield county , connecticut .

>> reporter: six weeks before that tragic day, 30-year-old lauren was hired to be a permanent substitute teacher at sandy hook elementary and on december 14th she was filling in for a teacher in a first grade classroom. when the shooting began, lauren made the students hide. some even in the tiny back room in the back of the class. the coroner told lauren 's father she died instantly without any pain. 15 out of the 16 children in her classroom died that day too. but today, some of the victims families are trying to make some good come out of this darkness of that day.

>> this is lauren 's dad and step mother. good morning to you.

>> i see the pain. it's always there. i can't imagine it ever goes away. but how are you all doing?

>> we're doing pretty well. it does feel good to talk about her. it's my therapy, actually, to talk about lauren makes my day. and i think of her all the time. and she is with me in spirit all the time. so i'm doing well.

>> joyce, if there was any light to come out of this horrible darkness of a year ago it was the story of teachers like lauren and what they did in that moment and i think we all like to think we would have been as brave as she was. but i don't know. what do you think about when you think about what she did in those moments?

>> teachers are always the strongest person in the classroom when anybody even thinks of threatening or questioning the children. and it's amazing that the inner strength in not only educating and meeting all of the students needs, but in trying to get them home in the same condition that they left the house. that's the parents' main control and i'm sure lauren , although new to the game, she was very determined to do absolutely the best she could do.

>> yeah. she had just started her job there. just been hired as a permanent substitute teacher . sandy hook was a very special place for her, right?

>> yes. it was. she loved the town of newtown, the school system and she loved the school where she was teaching. she knew the principal. i knew the principal personally myself. we had this connection with them. so she was very happy and dawn was such a nice, warm person and lauren was able to deal with her very nicely.

>> joyce you and your familiar almost immediately tried to turn this into a positive and to do something for other people including the establishment of a scholarship fund. explain what about fund does and why it was so important for you to bring positivity out of this.

>> i was a teacher at danbury high school in connecticut and lauren happened to be one of my students in 9th grade and was the reason we met.

>> she set you up, right?

>> she was the reason. and she was so determined to become a teacher and her pathway was not easy but she has friends who were her classmates, who graduated with her and i worked on the scholarship committee at the school and when she was killed i said a permanent memorial to her would be to establish a scholarship fund. the money is awarded yearly and it goes to a student attending the university of connecticut where lauren graduated from and she absolutely loved it, majoring in elementary education .

>> that 's wonderful . i know so many of the families, in fact, have set up funds as well. they have established a unifying place, one website where everybody can go to donate. it's called my sandy hook family.org and this is to honor all of the victims. and you'll be taking the special photographs for this as well.

>> yes, we hope so.

>> we appreciate you being here to help honor lauren and all of that he has that lost their lives. our thoughts are with you. we know this is so hard to deal with.

>>> thank you.

>> thank you so much. if you would like information on lauren rousseau's scholarship fund as well, go to our website today.com. we'll be right back.