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Noah Pozner, 6

Noah was “smart as a whip,” gentle but with a rambunctious streak, said his uncle, Alexis Haller of Woodenville, Wash. Noah’s twin sister Arielle, assigned to a different classroom, survived the shooting. He called her his best friend, and with their 8-year-old sister, Sophia, they were inseparable.

“They were always playing together, they loved to do things together,” Mr. Haller said.

Lauren Gabrielle Rousseau, 30, teacher

Lauren Rousseau had spent years working as a substitute teacher and doing other jobs. So she was thrilled when she finally realized her goal this fall to become a full-time teacher at Sandy Hook.

“Lauren wanted to be a teacher from before she even went to kindergarten,” said her mother, Teresa Rousseau. “We will miss her terribly and will take comfort knowing that she had achieved that dream.”

Mary Sherlach, 56, school psychologist

When the shots rang out, Mary Sherlach threw herself into the danger.

Janet Robinson, the superintendent of Newtown Public Schools, said Ms. Sherlach and the school’s principal ran toward the shooter. They lost their own lives, rushing toward him.

Victoria Soto, 27, teacher

She beams in snapshots. Her enthusiasm and cheer was evident. She was doing, those who knew her say, what she loved.

And now, Victoria Soto is being called a hero.

Though details of the 27-year-old teacher’s death remained fuzzy, her name has been invoked again and again as a portrait of selflessness and humanity among unfathomable evil. Those who knew her said they weren’t surprised by reports she shielded her first-graders from danger.

“She put those children first. That’s all she ever talked about,” said a friend, Andrea Crowell. “She wanted to do her best for them, to teach them something new every day.”

Associated Press writers Denise Lavoie, Mark Scolforo, Allen Breed and Danica Coto contributed to this report.