Colleagues remember Sandy Hook principal

This July 2010 photo provided by the Newtown Bee shows Dawn Lafferty Hochsprung, principal at Sandy Hook Elementary School, in Newtown, Conn.
Eliza Hallabeck

(CBS News) The line of people who paid their respects to Dawn Hochsprung in Woodbury, Conn., wrapped around the block Wednesday evening. The line for her wake started at three o'clock in the afternoon and was still going at eight o'clock last night.

She was the 47-year-old principal at Sandy Hook Elementary. Investigators say she gave her life trying to stop the gunman. A few of her colleagues helped us understand her better, including Janet Robinson, the superintendent of Newtown Schools.

Newtown Schools Superintendent Janet Robinson
Newtown Schools Superintendent Janet Robinson CBS News

JANET ROBINSON: Dawn was that wonderful combination of loving kids -- she just loved her children -- a good leader. We would go in a classroom, she could size up the instruction and what needed to be done to maybe ratchet that up a notch. Phenomenal.

SCOTT PELLEY: She was working on her Ph.D., in fact.

ROBINSON: Yes, she was. She was a very serious educator. We would talk -- as a matter of fact, we were talking about where her career might go.

Dawn Hochsprung was a wife with two grown children, three step-children and one grandchild. Hochsprung had been a school administrator for 14 years. Sally Cox, the Sandy Hook School nurse, knew her well.

Sally Cox, Sandy Hook school nurse
Sally Cox, Sandy Hook school nurse CBS News

COX: Very lively and enthusiastic and anxious for the kids to achieve and just totally involved in the school, absolutely. Knows the kids by names.

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Lillian Bittman was on the committee that recommended Hochsprung for the job.

Lillian Bittman
Lillian Bittman CBS News

BITTMAN: She was a very vivacious soul.

We have a sock hop every year, and everyone dresses up in 50s garb, and Dawn would dress up in a poodle skirt and a thing at her neck and everything. And she'd dance with the kids. She kind of was a kid at heart.

ROBINSON: She showed up at my office for a meeting one day dressed as some type of intergalactic princess that was unique and special. And I said, "You drove over here looking like that?"

PELLEY: I was told by someone else who works at the school that one day she dressed up as a princess.

COX: The Book Fairy.

PELLEY: What was the point of that?

COX: Well, we'd just had a big book fair. And she just wanted to tell children that books are magic and they bring lots of happiness to your life.

  • Scott Pelley

    Correspondent, "60 Minutes"