There’s no certain age to be brave and courageous, just like these first graders from an Alabama elementary school who helped their teacher after she faced a medical emergency.
Tracy Hodges teaches first-grade school students at Cedar Hill Elementary in Ardmore, she faced a do-or-die moment when she suddenly became ill in the classroom. “It was scary for me because I knew that they were going to have to see something probably that they didn’t need to,” she said.
She continued, “But I didn’t know any other way because I couldn’t find my way out the door.”
The incident happened in January when the pandemic was raging and instead of 18 students, there were just 12 who came to class that day.
The first graders had just finished singing and dancing in the classroom and were sitting at their desks that morning when Hodges felt her vision was getting blurred. “I couldn’t even find the door and I couldn’t make out the three children who were sitting in front of me,” said Hodges.
The children could see that something was wrong with her but couldn’t understand exactly what was going on. “Mrs. Hodges was shaking and we thought she was just joking,” said student Dalton Widener, he was present in the classroom when she had fallen sick.
Dalton said, “Then she fell out of the chair and hit her head.” Another student, Johnson said, “She fell out of the chair and her glasses fell off and she dropped,” he said.
Before she lost consciousness, the first-grade teacher, Mrs. Hodges, recalls telling the children to get help but she wasn’t sure if they understood her completely. But the kids got her message loud and clear and while two kids stayed with her in the classroom to see if everything was alright with her, the others went out in teams to get help in the hallways.
“Some people went and got the other teacher and then we went and got the nurse,” said Widener.
Even the school staff responded diligently during this sensitive time, Heather Snyder who is the school librarian guided the children away from their classroom after she saw them and the nurse running down the hall.
“I just grabbed them and didn’t have a clue what was going on, but grabbed them and kind of comforted them and just tried to keep them calm until we could figure out what was going on,” said librarian Heather Snyder.
Their efforts were successful as Hodges awakened and found herself surrounded by teachers and medical staff. One first-grader had informed paramedics about what had happened before they also arrived. “Just having to relive that right then that day showed such bravery so we were so proud of them,” said the librarian.
Hodges was taken to the hospital where she was diagnosed positive for Covid and was told that she had a seizure in the classroom because of it. Hodges said that she had no idea that she had Covid and said she never had a seizure before that in her entire life.
The school informed the parents and students about what had happened at the school and told them that Mrs. Hodges was doing fine. “I had messages from the parents,” said Hodges. “The children were scared to come back to school. So I had to reassure them that I was okay.”
One thing that disturbed Mrs. Hodges is that her young students had to see what she went through in the classroom but at the same time she is grateful that they were present there to save her life.
The students were called ‘Hodges’ Heroes’ and got rewarded with certificates and medals from community leaders for their bravery. “I can’t imagine how they felt at seven years old, having to face that,” said Hodges.
She adds, “But if I was at home, I probably would have been by myself because my family was at work and at school. So I was at the right place at the right time because they took care of me.”
Everyone from the parents, students, and staff is relieved to see Mrs. Hodges well and back in the classroom. The first graders were recognized for their bravery by the town’s sheriff, district attorney, police chief, and fire rescue team.
All four of them came to the school for a ceremony where the first graders were given certificates and medals for their heroic actions, but they are refusing to be in the limelight as they say, “Any students would have done it if they were here,” said Widener.