Boaz Educators Talk About Heroic Teachers in Oklahoma

BOAZ, Ala. (WHNT) — The valiant acts of teachers in Oklahoma who used their bodies to shield students from Monday’s deadly tornado are getting national attention.

Boaz fourth grade teacher Catina Stewart said she is confident she and her co-workers would do the same, as students become their children during the nine month school year.

Stewart said she feels a strong emotional attachment to the heroic teachers.

“It’s fabulous to hear and it’s also heartbreaking because these children, they become ours.  I can`t imagine what these teachers will go through in months, years to come.  This is something they`ll never forget,” she said.

It’s a situation Stewart hopes she never has to face, but one for which she tries to prepare herself and her students just in case.  There are posters on the wall next to her classroom door which provide instructions on what to do during tornado drills and fire drills.

“We do our best to make sure our students know the rules and procedures of what we do in severe weather.  I feel like our school officials do a tremendous job keeping us prepared and we know that`s going on at all times,” Stewart said.

“It`s very stressful but we know we have to be calm and the children can see us and they know if it`s a serious situation or not, so we have to be the ones that stay in control, stay calm and keep these children safe.”

Stewart said she knows she would put herself in between her students and danger, and said her two children are also students in the Boaz city school system and is confident their teachers would do the same.

Superintendent Mark Isley said the Boaz schools do not currently have storm shelters, and the plan is to go to the most interior location of the buildings, which is typically a hallway.

He said if the city builds a new school in the future, it will have a state of the art safe room.

“What’s concerning with Oklahoma and that kind of tornado is there’s not really a safe place,” Isley said.  “It’s definitely something i’m concerned about as a superintendent, I know our community and state are as well.  We will always do the best we can do to put our students in the safest opportunity.”

Isley said that extends past school hours.  There was an EF-1 tornado that recently developed in the area around 3:30 p.m., and the superintendent said there was a concern for school buses that were still taking students home.

Isley said the school system is considering putting GPS devices on school buses so they can track them and try to steer them away from danger if necessary.

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