AFT Local 420 teacher who died saving her students honored by Congressional Medal of Honor Society

Health teacher Jean Kuczka, who died saving her students from a shooter at Central Visual and Performing Arts High School in St. Louis last October, was honored March 25 by the Congressional Medal of Honor Society.

Kuczka was posthumously granted a Citizen Honors Award, which is earned for acts of bravery, service and self-sacrifice. Only five United States citizens receive the award annually, and Kuczka’s fell under the Single Act of Heroism classification. She was honored at a ceremony in Washington, D.C.

Kuczka, 61, died on Oct. 24, 2022 confronting the gunman who entered her classroom at CVPA. She was a member of AFT Local 420, which represents St. Louis Public Schools teachers.

“We join in honoring a dedicated educator, a fine humanitarian, wonderful family member and an everyday hero,” said Byron Clemens, spokesman for Local 420. “She demonstrated extraordinary courage on Oct. 24, 2022, but she was, and remains, an everyday hero. We mourn our union Sister but will never forget.”

Students, friends, family and her union remember her as a fun, energetic, happy and caring person. Kuczka was also a longtime volunteer for JDRF, a nonprofit organization that funds type 1 diabetes research. She became involved after her son was diagnosed with the disease at age 10.

On its website, the Congressional Medal of Honor Society stated: “Kuczka placed herself between her students and danger, in order to save innocent lives Kuczka’s courage reflects great credit upon herself, her family, and the state of Missouri.”

The Congressional Medal of Honor Society is a nonprofit organization chartered in 1958. In addition to the citizen awardees, the organization’s members include recipients of the Medal of Honor, the highest military award.

(Some information from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch)


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