Victoria "Vicki" Soto loved teaching at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown.
Before becoming a first-grade teacher she interned at the school for two years.
"This is my third year as a first grade teacher at Sandy Hook School! I absolutely love teaching first grade!" begins her profile on the school's website.
The 27-year-old certainly seemed to have the energy to match her adoring students.
But that career was tragically cut short Friday.
Soto died trying to save her students from the hands of a shooter whose unthinkable killing spree Friday morning left 20 children and six adults dead, before he turned the gun on himself.
James Wiltsie, a cousin of Soto, spoke to ABCNews Friday night. He shared with the nation how his cousin's instincts took over to keep her kids alive.
"From what we've been told, my cousin Vicki and her first-grade classroom, took her students and huddled them into a closet and then shielded the children in the closet trying to protect them," Wiltsie said. "By doing so she lost her life protecting those little ones."
"Her life's dream was to be a teacher," Wiltsie told ABCNews.
Over the last 12 hours a photo of Soto posted on Facebook has been spreading rapidly on the social network. The photo (attached in gallery above) is accompanied with the following message:
This is Victoria Soto, and although I didn't know her, she is my hero. I don't know too much about her, but I know a lot of people who do know her and she's amazing. Victoria was a Stratford high graduate and only 27. She was killed today after she hid her first graders in closets and cabinets and told the shooter they were in the gym. He killed her and not one of her children were harmed. I have never been more proud to be from Stratford or to be a teacher. God bless Victoria, her family and friends, and all of those who were involved today in anyway. Victoria is a true hero.
As of 11:30 a.m. Saturday, the photo was shared by nearly 15,000 Facebook accounts.
A Stratford resident who said she is neighbors with Soto's mother emailed Patch this morning, proposing an idea to help the family.
"I am not actually very familiar with the family, but I would like to help organize a collection to help with the cost of the funeral," she wrote.