NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) — A 25-year-old teacher is being called a hero. Abby Zwerner is in stable condition as she remains hospitalized in Newport News.

Police say she survived a shooting at the hands of a 6-year-old student while teaching her first grade class Friday.

On Monday, the community gathered and prayed for Zwerner and her students.

From adults to children and even therapy dogs, dozens gathered outside the Newport News Public Schools administration building to support one of their own.

“It was, it was awful. It was truly awful,” said Mandy Livingston Ham, who teaches Pre-K at Watkins Early Childhood Center, “You never dream that anything like this would ever happen, especially at an elementary school.”

Ham’s family is friends with the Zwerners. Ham also teaches at the same school as Abby Zwerner’s aunt.

“She comes from a fantastic educator family. Our families live near one another, my parents and her grandfather,” Ham explained.

Ham tells 10 On Your Side Abby was excited to be teaching in person after starting her first year as an educator during COVID — being forced to teach from a screen.

“She was living her dream, she was fulfilling her passion,” Ham stated.

Ham and her fellow teachers made shirts for Monday’s vigil, keeping the Richneck family in their prayers.

“We are Richneck strong because when teachers band together, I told you we roll deep, we travel in packs like wolves and we always want to take care of our own,” Ham said, “All we can do is pray that our administration will do the right thing.”

As of Monday, Riverside Regional Medical Center officials confirm Zwerner is awake and talking with her family. A GoFundMe has been set up to help Abby, you can donate here.