Teaching Profession

Two Teachers Praised as Heroes in La. Theater Shooting

By Maggie DeBlasis — July 27, 2015 2 min read
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Two educators are being hailed as heroes in light of a shooting in a Louisiana movie theater that left three dead and nine injured.

Ali Martin and Jena Meaux, educators at Jeanerette Senior High school, were at a July 23 film showing at the Grand 16 Theater in Lafayette, La., when shots rang out.

“Her friend literally jumped over her, and in her account actually saved her life,” Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal said at a press conference. “If she hadn’t done that, she believed it would have hit her in the head.”

Apparently, Meaux, the school’s librarian, threw herself on top of Martin, an English teacher, to protect her. Martin then pulled the fire alarm to alert the rest of the theater to the situation. Both women were wounded in the leg, but have since been treated and released from the hospital.

The Iberia Association of Educators has set up a GoFundMe account to help Martin and Meaux cover any medical expenses and lost wages while they recover.

“These are two amazing women,” IAE Acting President Cammie Maturin told the Daily Advertiser. "[In meetings and professional-development trainings,] we often go over what to do when a crisis hits. I firmly believe these two women did exactly what they were taught.”

Dale Henderson, superintendent to the Iberia Parish schools, credited both educators for their quick reactions Thursday night.

“Who could imagine on a Thursday evening sitting there watching a movie in Lafayette, Louisiana, and have something like this happen,” he told the Advocate. “You’re not in that mode of thinking, but evidently, they both reacted very well and very quickly.”

This is hardly the first time an educator has saved the day. Back in 2014, a New Mexico teacher received praise for talking down a student who had opened fire in the school’s gymnasium and injured two other students. In 2012, teachers and educators tried to shield students from gunshots at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.

Since then, crisis training such as ALICE—a method created by police officers with the intention of better preparing schools and other institutions for an active shooter situation—has been replacing the old shelter-in-place methods in schools. In the wake of shootings at Columbine High School, Virginia Tech University, and Sandy Hook, school security around the nation increased and continues to do so with each new tragedy. But, instead of sheltering in place and waiting for an all-clear, ALICE follows the FBI’s recommendations to the public when threatened with an active shooter: alert others, hide, evacuate, and, as a last resort, fight.

Meaux and Martin’s bravery in the cinema builds a strong case that, though no one’s ever really ready to confront a shooter, resources, expertise, and drillsto train educators for crisis situations might be paying off.

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Teaching Now blog.