WEST JORDAN, Utah — A Utah school teacher is trying to drum up support for a proposal to honor educators who die while protecting students, citing a Nevada teacher’s death in a school shooting this week.
Michael Landsberry’s death on Monday near Reno, Nev., underscores the need for the U.S. government to recognize such educators with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, said Abram Yospe, a first grade teacher at Westland Elementary School in West Jordan.
Yospe told KSL that he’s pushing a petition drive that was launched by a cousin on Oct. 22 that asks the U.S. government to extend the honor to slain teachers.
“Pretty much everyone would agree that recognizing a teacher who gave their life for their students is something we could all get behind,” he said. “There have been a lot (of teachers) that have not received any sort of recognition at all for this great sacrifice that they’ve given.”
The Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, is presented to individuals who have made especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.
In February, President Barack Obama bestowed the nation’s second-highest civilian honor, the Presidential Citizens Medal, on the families of six educators killed along with 20 children in the December massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.
Nevada law enforcement and school officials have lauded the actions of Landsberry, a 45-year-old former Marine who tried to stop the rampage at Sparks Middle School before he was killed. Student Jose Reyes also shot and injured two classmates before turning the gun on himself, police said.
Students said they saw Landsberry walk calmly toward the shooter and ask him to hand over his weapon before he was gunned down. Washoe County School District Police Chief Mike Mieras said Landsberry’s actions gave some students enough time to run to safety.
Yospe said he has received positive feedback about the proposal so far, but supporters still have many signatures to gather.