The 65-year-old mathematics teacher already had five students cowering inside her room, and she knew that opening her door was breaking protocol. “But I just got such a deep feeling I was needed,” she said.
As she peered out into the hallway she saw fifteen students searching desperately for a place to hide and quietly ushered them inside. As she closed the door for the second time, she looked all of them in the eye and gave a short speech she still finds difficult to retell: “I’m telling you from the bottom of my heart, a shooter has to go through me before they get you.”
The active shooter protocol in American schools calls for a teacher to lock the classroom door when an incident begins, keep it locked and hide students until law enforcement arrives. But at Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school on February 14, many students were in the hallways when the shooting started. Teachers had to make unthinkable decisions about protecting students: Keep the door locked leaving students outside to fend for themselves, or open the door to let students in, possibly risking the lives of those inside?