School psychologist died trying to protect others
NEWTOWN, Conn. -- Mary Sherlach spent most of her professional life trying to help kids from taking a wrong turn.
A school psychologist at the Sandy Hook Elementary School since August 1994, she worked closely with students, parents and teachers.
I "am always ready to assist in problem solving, intervention and prevention," Sherlach, 56, wrote on her professional website.
FULL COVERAGE: Connecticut school shooting victims
She was fatally shot Friday by a young man who took a wrong turn. Sherlach was one of six adults and 20 children killed by the lone gunman before he took his own life.
She died while trying to protect others, Diane Day, a therapist who works at the school, told The Wall Street Journal.
Day was in a Friday morning meeting with Sherlach and Sandy Hook principal Dawn Hochsprung, who also fatally shot, when they heard gunshots. Sherlach and Hochsprung ran out toward where the sound was coming from -- and never came back.
"They didn't think twice about confronting or seeing what was going on," Day told the Journal.
Former school superintendent John Reed told The News-Times of nearby Danbury that Sherlach was an intelligent, warm and caring person.
"If there ever was a person who, by qualifications and personality, was made to work with children, to be a school psychologist, it was Mary,'' Reed said.
When reached at Scherlach's home in Trumbull, Conn., a friend of the family read a statement written by Scherlach's daughter, Maura Schwartz.
"There are no words to describe the devastating loss that we feel at this time," it said. "Our family has lost a loving mother, dedicated wife and above all, a wonderful, caring woman who was beyond dedicated to her students."
Sherlach and her husband, William, had two daughters, Maura and Katy. William is a financial adviser with Morgan Stanley.
Schwartz' Facebook friends praised her mother.
"Your Mom was always a wonderfully sweet person," Alicia Preusch posted on Schwartz' page. Schwartz updated her Facebook profile pictures to include images of her mother.
Prior to joining Sandy Hook Elementary School 18 years ago, Sherlach was a school psychologist in Redding, North Haven and New Haven public schools in Connecticut.
On Twitter, users praised Sherlach for her dedication to students. Many called her a "hero."
Sherlach said on her website that she and her husband enjoyed traveling and spending time at their Finger Lakes home in Upstate New York. Her hobbies included gardening, reading and going to the theater.
And she was about to have more free time to enjoy those hobbies: Sherlach was just one year from retirement, according to the South Jersey Times.
That newspaper spoke with Sherlach's son-in-law, Eric Schwartz, who is married to Maura.
"She was incredibly kind, upbeat, bright, cheery," Schwarz told the South Jersey Times.
He said many friends and family members are supporting his devastated wife and in-laws.
Eric Schwartz posted this on his Facebook profile Friday night:
"I don't want to sleep tonight because if I do that means I will eventually wake up. And if I wake up, I will have no choice but to accept that this was not one long nightmare. There is no point in asking why because there isn't an answer out there to (ease) the pain my wife and the family has had to endure."
Contributing: Marisol Bello in McLean, Va.