Richneck teacher who was shot by 6-year-old awarded grant from Uvalde anti-violence foundation

Abigail Zwerner, the first grade teacher shot by a student at Richneck Elementary School in January, has been named the inaugural recipient of the HERO TEACHER Award by The Uvalde Foundation for the Kids.

Zwerner will receive the grant in Spring 2023. She will also be in charge of administering the grant to future recipients in years to come.

The Uvalde Foundation for the Kids, a nonprofit organization based in Dallas, was formed to prevent violence in schools after the Uvalde Elementary School shooting in Texas last May. Nineteen students and two teachers were killed in the tragedy.

The purpose of the grant is twofold, Daniel Chapin, founder and chief financial officer of the foundation, told the Daily Press and The Pilot.

“It’s intended first and foremost to honor this year Abby Zwerner for her actions following the events at Richneck Elementary,” Chapin said. “Ongoing, it will be an annual award in her name honoring teachers across the country to give them recognition as well for their heroic efforts.”

The grant, which includes a stipend for student use and is intended for nonviolent programming in schools, starts at a base amount of $1,000 and then grows through fundraising campaigns.

Initial funds will be transferred to Zwerner on Monday, Chapin said. The Foundation is still accepting contributions to the fund.

Because it’s unclear whether Zwerner will return to the classroom, Chapin said Zwerner is free to use the award as she sees fit, including paying for medical or recovery expenses.

The foundation originally planned to give oversight of the grant to the Newport News school division but later decided Zwerner and her representatives would be better suited to oversee it.

“We felt that, quite frankly, if the school was not able to care enough to address Abby’s concerns, and other teachers’ concerns, why would we entrust them with a fund that’s specifically focused on that?” Chapin said. “We’re very big on accountability.”

In the wake of the Richneck shooting, teachers and community members in Newport News have raised concerns about the division’s handling of disciplinary and student behavior issues.

Cianna Morales, 757-957-1304,