By Robin Rieger
SALEM, NJ (CBS) — A vigil in the city of Salem on Monday evening included prayers for Salem High School choir director and music teacher Maura Schwartz and her family.
Her mother, Mary Sherlach, was killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting on Friday in Connecticut. Sherlach was the school psychologist who, along with the school principal, was killed running towards gunman Adam Lanza.
“Let the healing begin,” prayed one of the people in attendance.
They wanted to send Schwartz a message.
“We love her. We are definitely here for her. Whatever she needs, our shoulders are what she needs to lean on,” said organizer Roxzanne Forman, of Mt. Zion Baptist Church.
“This is a very sad loss for us,” said Salem High School Principal Dr. Gregory Dunham. He told us on Monday that Schwartz was off on Friday but got in touch as news of the shooting in Connecticut continued.
“I got a text from her and it said, ‘My mother was one of the victims. I’m on my way to CT. I’m not sure when I’ll be back,’” Dunham said.
He also said the school district’s website has resources for concerned parents and that counselors will be available to students. No change in security was made Monday, but an armed school resource officer patrols the school and students have emergency drills monthly.
Dr. Dunham also said that Schwartz has been in contact by email and even asked to Skype with her students Monday.
“She sent us the arrangements and where they were going to be. And interestingly enough, she was really concerned about her students,” Dunham said.
This is no surprise, though, he added, considering Schwartz’s character.
“This is her fourth year – a delightful woman. A lot of energy, a lot of spirit. Absolutely loves her kids,” he said.
Dunham said they will offer whatever support Schwartz needs. She teaches music at the school, including the keyboard and songwriting, according to Dunham. She also gives lessons.
Dunham said Sherlach did visit the school to attend one of Schwartz’s first concerts.
Schwartz lives in Gloucester County. Neighbors there told us they will also do what they can to help her get through her grief.