"We are rightly taken by the fact that some teachers risked their lives and gave their lives," said David Steiner, dean of Hunter College's School of Education and a former New York state education commissioner. "We should just shut up and admire (them)."
Still, he wonders, how long does awe last, and what comes after?
Does the teacher who almost lost her life get sufficient planning time for class? Will a reconstructed building bring resources for an educator to try new curricula? Is there a monetary reward that might entice a low-paid teacher to stay? Will there be counseling to help educators recover from a crisis?
And what about those who can dazzle in the classroom but haven't faced down a tornado or talked down a gunman? What about those teachers who save children's lives in quieter ways every day?
"I worry about the answer," Steiner said. "You shouldn't have to be a hero to be a respected teacher."
Just doing their job
In the minutes before the tornado hit Briarwood Elementary, special education aide Suzanne Haley's students ducked beneath desks while teachers hovered above to block debris.
"It sounded like a jet, low, coming closer and closer," Haley said.
Minutes later, she and others were jammed in the wreckage of the school, conscious, but struggling to move. She couldn't free her leg; it was impaled by a metal stake recently attached to a student's desk.
"By the grace of God, I kept it together," Haley said. "I couldn't go into hysterics in front of my children, in front of the other students. Not even till after surgery, after I came out of anesthesia, did I lose it.
"These children, we see their smiles, we see their tears every day, in and out. We love them, and they're our babies.
"It's nothing anybody wouldn't do."
In Newtown, in Moore, any time a headline speaks of a hero teacher, the educators inevitably accept thanks and deflect the praise. Some lament that they couldn't prevent students' injuries or react before the first shot.
The response is just part of the job, educators say.
"They're probably much less comfortable in the spotlight and more comfortable in the classroom," said Gregg Garn, dean of the University of Oklahoma's Jeannine Rainbolt College of Education in Norman, which has hundreds of alumni working in Moore's schools.
And they're right: It is part of the job. School safety and crisis response is a constant discussion in every school, especially since the 1999 shooting at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, which left one teacher and 14 students dead, including the two gunmen.
Safety comes up in prospective teachers' college courses, Garn said, and it's one of their first lessons when they take over a classroom. In most schools, there's explicit, site-specific instruction on where to go in case of a fire, how to lock down during a shooting and how to stay safe during a natural disaster.
"They're willing to put themselves in harm's way," he said. "What you saw (in Moore) was just a reflection of that."
Any time there's a story of a school in crisis, other schools around the country evaluate their own teachers' plans, their unique what-ifs, educators said. In Moore, the conversation is well underway.
Robert Romines, the assistant superintendent for Moore schools, supports adding storm shelters to all schools, but said "money is an obstacle." New schools will be rebuilt on the sites destroyed last week, and he hopes those, at least, will have the budget for safe rooms.