By Robin Rieger
SALEM, NJ (CBS) – “She went after him; she saved adults and children,” said Salem High School music teacher Maura Schwartz.
Her mother, Mary Sherlach, the school psychologist at Sandy Hook, was killed as she and the school’s principal, Dawn Hochsprung, left a meeting and ran towards gunman Adam Lanza as he shot up a Newtown, Connecticut elementary school on Friday.
“We knew she was going to be in the middle of it,” Schwartz said.
On Tuesday, Schwartz spoke by phone from Connecticut. She said her mother’s selfless act gives her sister and father some measure of comfort.
“She was an absolute hero. She saved the lives of everyone in that meeting, saved kids in the school,” Schwartz said.
Comfort also comes from friends who called after learning of the shooting and Sherlach’s death from the news coverage. Schwartz said her sister called to tell her what was being reported and she turned on the TV.
“As soon as she called, I knew something was wrong. She said, ‘It sounds like there’s been a shooting at Mom’s school,’” Schwartz recalled.
When reports indicated that the school psychologist had been killed, Schwartz left her Gloucester County home with her husband and headed to her childhood home in Trumbull, CT.
“Families were each assigned a state trooper. They came at 1 a.m….gave us official notification,” she said.
Schwartz said her mother inspired her to pursue a career in education: “She loved the kids.”
And the apple didn’t fall far from the tree. Schwartz spoke with some of her students this morning.
“I said, you know, make sure you never leave the house without telling the people you love how much they mean to you,” Schwartz explained.
The family is establishing a foundation in memory of Mary Sherlach through the Health and Wellness Foundation. For more information on it, visit: www.fccfoundation.org