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Out of the horror of the Connecticut school shooting Friday came incredible acts of selflessness and bravery by teachers willing to sacrifice everything for their students.

Kaitlin Roig was able to save her 14 students by barricading them in the closet. She also survived. Victoria Soto was just as heroic, but not so fortunate.

Soto, 27, a first-grade teacher at Sandy Hook Elementary School, ushered her students into a closet, placing her body between them and shooter Adam Lanza.

“She was found huddled over her children, her students, doing instinctively what she knew was the right thing,” her cousin Jim Wiltsie tells ABC News.

“I’m proud that Vicki had the instincts to protect her kids from harm. It brings peace to know she was doing what she loved, protecting the children, and, in our eyes, she’s a hero.”

Victoria Soto was among the six adults, all women, killed in the Connecticut shooting massacre that also took the lives of 20 children, 12 girls and eight boys.

The gunman, 20-year-old Adam Lanza, took his own life. His mother was also killed in a different location, bringing the Newtown, Conn., death toll to 28 in all.

“It doesn’t surprise me at all that she would do this,” Sabeena Ali, the parent of a girl who was in Soto’s class two years ago, tells People magazine.

Ali calls Soto a “vibrant young woman who loved the kids and would be with the kids and spend time with them and sit on the floor with them.”

Two years later, her daughter – now a third-grader – still idolized Soto.

“Every day there was some new Miss Soto story we had to listen to: ‘This is what she did, this is how wonderful she was today,'” says Ali.

“She would bring in snacks for the kids and do special days.”