The deadly school shooting at Santa Fe High School in Texas last week claimed the lives of two educators, in addition to eight students.
Media reports have identified the victims, who were killed by a 17-year-old male student. This was the 13th school shooting since the beginning of the year. (For more details, here is Education Week’s on-the-ground reporting from the aftermath of the horrific event.)
Glenda Ann Perkins was “everyone’s favorite substitute” teacher, as one sophomore at the school told the New York Times. She was known among students as “Grandma Perkins” because of her sweet nature, students wrote on Twitter.
The Daily Mail spoke to 15-year-old student Shelby Sosa, who said Perkins saved her life by pushing her out of the path of bullets. Perkins was substituting in the gym that morning, and when the fire alarm went off, the class exited the gym and headed down the school hallway. Then, they heard gun shots, and Perkins yelled for the students to run.
Shelby told the Daily Mail that she had stopped at the end of the hallway to see if her friend had made it to safety. Perkins shoved her out of the doorway seconds before a gun was fired, and the bullet hit Perkins.
Shelby said Perkins’ last word was to her students: “Run.”
This extraordinary woman pushed a student out of the way to protect them & took the deadly bullet that ended her life. Please don’t forget her name. Do not ever forget what she did. Do not let her legacy die. Glenda Ann Perkins was a selfless, heroic savior. #RememberAnnPerkins pic.twitter.com/agLbO9v70e
-- Lydia Swartz (@lemonylyd) May 20, 2018
Perkins left behind a husband and a daughter. In a statement, her relatives shared what Perkins would have wanted to say, had she survived the shooting: “We know Ann would want the students and faculty of Santa Fe High School, to whom she lovingly dedicated so much of her time, to remember to keep their hearts open, to discuss their feelings with family members, friends, and counselors in order to successfully conquer this tragedy,” they said.
“Words cannot express how much we will miss our Ann, who was an amazing and devoted daughter, wife, mother, grandmother, and friend,” the family continued.
“She started substitute teaching because she loved to help children,” her son told the Washington Post. “She didn’t have to do it. She did it because she loved it.”
Tisdale was a mother of three and a grandmother of several children. Her brother-in-law said she had planned to retire and be a “full-time grandmother,” according to the New York Times.
Her husband of 47 years has a fatal lung disease, and Tisdale was working two jobs to pay for his medical bills, according to the family. In addition to working at the school, she was a server at a local restaurant, her brother-in-law wrote on Facebook. He added that Tisdale never complained and was tireless in making sure her family was cared for.
Tisdale’s niece’s fiance, Eric Sanders, said of Tisdale that “words don’t explain her lust for life and the joy she got from helping people,” according to the Chicago Tribune.
While waiting for news of Tisdale on Friday, niece Leia Olinde spoke with Education Week, saying she supports training and arming teachers to cut down on gun violence in schools. “You will have a much better response time,” Olinde said. (Texas officials, including the governor, are calling for more armed teachers.)
After the shooting in Parkland, Fla., earlier this year, teachers across the country were both sombered and inspired by the acts of heroism by the three educators who were killed protecting students. News of school shootings tends to force teachers to imagine what they would do in an active-shooter situation, educators say—and those concerns are amplified during lockdown drills, which have become more unsettling in recent years.
“How can I tell [my students] that while I’d move mountains for them, I know my body is just as feeble against bullets as theirs?” opinion blogger Christina Torres wrote after Parkland. “How do I explain to them the fact that this is the new normal of the society that they are growing up in, no matter how horrifying I may think it is? How do I admit to them that, as much as I love them, I don’t know how to protect them from this?”
Education Week reporter Arianna Prothero reported from Santa Fe.
First image: Television newscasters prepare to give updates near a memorial in front of Santa Fe High School on May 20 in Santa Fe, Texas, where a student shot and killed eight classmates and two teachers. —Elizabeth Conley/Houston Chronicle via AP
Second image of Cynthia Tisdale via Twitter
A version of this news article first appeared in the Teaching Now blog.