Jane Vance and Lucinda Roy
On the morning of April 16, 2007, Seung-Hui Cho—a student at Virginia Tech—shot and killed 32 students and teachers, wounding 17 others. Until the 2016 massacre at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, it was the deadliest shooting rampage in U.S. history.
Artist Jane Vance and Professor Lucinda Roy were teaching at Virginia Tech that semester, although neither were present on the morning of the shooting.
They returned to campus a week after the shooting when classes resumed for students who wanted to complete the term.
At StoryCorps, Jane Vance describes the inspiring way her class came together after the tragedy.
One of Jane’s former students, Kristen Wickham, was a freshman at the time of the shooting. Her friend Caitlin Hammaren was the only other student at Virginia Tech from Kristen’s home town of Westtown, NY, and was one of the 32 victims.
At StoryCorps, Kristen sat down with her husband Andrew Baginski to remember Caitlin.
Originally aired April 14, 2017, on NPR’s Morning Edition.
Top photo: Virginia Tech students sing “Amazing Grace” at the conclusion of a candle light vigil on the drill field Tuesday, April 17, 2007, in Blacksburg, Va. (AP Photo/Roanoke Times, Josh Meltzer)
Center photo: Lucina Roy and Jane Vance on the Virginia Tech campus. (StoryCorps/Erica Yoon)
Bottom photo: Kristen Wickham and her husband, Andrew Baginski in New York City. (StoryCorps)
Carlos Walton and Jim Saint Germain
Jim Saint Germain’s family moved to New York City from Haiti in 2000. They left with the hope of having a better life than the one they left behind, but for 10-year-old Jim, the adjustment was difficult.
His family moved into a small Brooklyn apartment where the quarters were so tight that Jim was forced to sleep in a closet, and at one point, 15 people were living in the home at once. By the time he was in eighth grade, Jim’s behavior had worsened and he was struggling in school. He was frequently in fights and his teachers began singling him out as a troublemaker.
Around that time, Carlos Walton, then the dean of Jim’s middle school, stepped in.
Carlos was known as an educator with the rare ability to connect with harder-to-reach kids. He had grown up in a tough Brooklyn neighborhood and used straight talk, a firm handshake, and big hugs to reach students.
Carlos saw himself in Jim and when Jim got kicked out of his apartment, Carlos took him into his own home to help give him time to figure things out. And while their relationship has had its moments, Jim is currently studying for his master’s degree at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, and this past weekend he served as a groomsman at Carlos’ wedding.
Jim (above right) and Carlos (above left) came to StoryCorps to remember some of the pivotal moments in their relationship.
Originally aired July 22, 2016, on NPR’s Morning Edition.
Above: Jim and Carlos together on the night before Carlos’ wedding. Photo courtesy of Jim Saint Germain.
Paul Nilsen and Tom Graziano
In the early 1980s, Tom Graziano and his wife adopted an almost 2-year-old boy named John. As a child, he was constantly sick, but doctors were never able to determine why.
In 1986, when John was in the second grade at Central Elementary School in Wilmette, Illinois, his parents discovered the reason for his health problems—John was HIV positive having contracted the disease from his biological mother.
At StoryCorps, Tom sat down with John’s elementary school principal, Paul Nilsen (seen above left), to discuss the reaction of other students attending the school and among members of their suburban Chicago community to John during the AIDS epidemic in America.
John died in May 1989, just days shy of his 10th birthday.
Originally aired December 4, 2015, on NPR’s Morning Edition.
Photo of John courtesy of Tom Graziano.
Vickie Goodwin and Sissy Goodwin
There’s an electrical power plant technology instructor at Wyoming’s Casper College who stands out on campus. His name is Sissy Goodwin and he dresses in women’s clothing.
He wears bows in his hair, likes his skirts exactly 17 inches short, and he prefers his tool boxes in pink.
Sissy identifies as straight. His wife, Vickie, didn’t know he wore women’s clothing when they met, but for the past four decades she has stood by his side.
When they sat down for StoryCorps, Sissy and Vickie looked back on the early days of their love story.
Originally aired April 3, 2015, on NPR’s Morning Edition.
Photo courtesy of Sissy Goodwin.
Mussarut Jabeen and Yusor Abu-Salha
In May 2014, Yusor Abu-Salha (right)–one of the victims of the February 10, 2015 shooting in Chapel Hill, North Carolina–recorded a StoryCorps interview with Mussarut Jabeen (left), who was her third-grade teacher.
In fact, all three of the victims–Yusor, her husband, Deah Barakat, and her sister, Razan Abu-Salha–attended Jabeen’s school.
Mussarut Jabeen returned recently to talk about Yusor’s death.
Originally aired February 13, 2015, on NPR’s Morning Edition.
Celeste Davis-Carr and Aaron
In 2013, Aaron, a freshman at Corliss High School on the South Side of Chicago, was living on the streets.
His English class was participating in StoryCorpsU, an education program that uses StoryCorps broadcasts and interview techniques to help students find their voice and strengthen their relationships with teachers.
Celeste Davis-Carr, Aaron’s teacher, learned that Aaron was homeless through a recording he made for StoryCorpsU.
A year later, they sat down to make another recording for StoryCorps.
Aaron’s last name and photo were withheld at the request of his foster care agency.
Originally aired March 7, 2014, on NPR’s Morning Edition.
Rogelio Martinez and Lisa Moya King
At the time Rogelio Martinez enrolled in Lisa Moya King’s high school dance class, his father had been deported and he was moving among family members who were abusing him.
After Lisa saw Rogelio’s bruises, she reported the abuse, but days later, after he told her he was going to run away, she offered to help him by allowing him to stay with her and her husband.
At StoryCorps, Lisa and Rogelio, now 21, discuss how grateful he is that she took care of him when he was in need, and how he taught her about being a teacher and a parent.
Originally aired November 29, 2013, on NPR’s Morning Edition.
John Cruitt and Cecile Doyle
It was just two days before Christmas in 1958 when John Cruitt’s mother died after a serious illness.
He was a student in Cecile Doyle’s third grade class at the time.
More than 50 years later, John tracked down his former teacher, to tell her how she helped him through that difficult time.
Originally aired December 28, 2012, on NPR’s Morning Edition.
Ken Rensink and Laurel Hill-Ward
When Ken Rensink was 19 years old, he enlisted in the US Army Reserves and completed training.
The day after he returned home, he fell asleep at the wheel of his car and was in an accident that almost took his life.
Now, almost 30 years later, he’s teaching special education to 11th and 12th graders in Williams, California.
Ken came to StoryCorps with his friend Laurel Hill-Ward to talk about how surviving this accident has influenced his teaching.
Originally aired October 5, 2012 on NPR’s Morning Edition.
Tierra Jackson and John Horan
Growing up, Tierra Jackson struggled through the Chicago school system.
As a teenager, she enrolled in a high school where John Horan was the dean.
John invited Tierra, who is now 23, back to the school to sit down for StoryCorps.
Originally aired September 21, 2012 on NPR’s Morning Edition.