Language arts teacher Melissa Falkowski is being praised as a hero today after cramming 19 students into a supply closet as gunshots rang out at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School yesterday. Former student Nikolas Cruz, 19, opened fire with an AR-15, killing 17 people and injuring many others.
“I unlocked the door and let the kids in. We followed the procedure to disappear – to move out of sight. I made the decision to move the kids into the closet,” Falkowski told MSNBC. “It was tight. We were in there for about 30 minutes. I told the kids we were going to stay put until we heard an announcement or the SWAT team came to get us.”
“We had training about a month ago and we talked about these different scenarios and what to do. It was very obvious that it wasn’t a drill. I made the decision that [the closet] was another layer between us and the active shooter,” Falkowski said of her quick-thinking response to the attack.
“Melissa Falkowski is an amazing educator who deserves praise for what she did. I had multiple panic attacks while locked in the closet with 19 other people for numerous hours,” Emma Dowd told Love What Matters.
“She reiterated many times that I would be safe and she won’t let anything happen to me. I spend a lot of time with Falkowski as she advises the newspaper, which I’m one editor-in-chief of. She constantly checked up on me and kept me calm even when there were nearly 160 of us in the library after all the classes got searched. I’m eternally grateful for strong and caring educators like her. She not only cared for me, but also the 160 kids in the classroom with us along with her other faculty.”
After Falkowski was interviewed on live TV students took to Twitter to recount their experience of their wonderful teacher and retold stories of her staggering bravery:
Being one of those 19 kids for numerous hours was beyond surreal. Melissa Falkowski, the teacher, was one of the few that kept me calm and safe. I'm beyond thankful for educators like her. https://t.co/yzXQf9fNzt
— merm (@emmaedowd) February 15, 2018
Parkland, Florida, teacher on CNN who had to hide 19 crying kids in a closet in her classroom: “We did everything we were trained to do in active shooter drills, and still we had mass casualties. I blame our government for not keeping us safe.”
— Shannon Watts (@shannonrwatts) February 15, 2018
I am so thankful for Mrs Falkowski who kept me and the 18 other students safe and calm. I couldn't be more grateful to her and everyone else that helped me survive today. https://t.co/l1p7UNt8TX
— Becca Schneid (@becca_schneid) February 15, 2018
Other students recalled a day that will forever be seared in their memories as a living nightmare.
this was my teacher. i was in that closet. having to feel that fear and see all those people think they’re going to die is something no person should experience. https://t.co/4ysyB6HHHO
— Delaney Tarr (@delaneytarr) February 15, 2018
Today I started my school day freaking out about a gov test I had. I ended my school day freaking out about if my friends are alive or not. I just don’t understand how cold and sick one person can be.
— Steph (@ohstephany_) February 15, 2018
Despite the devastation and heartache, it appears that the selfless actions of this passionate educator saved the lives of many students.
— TODAY (@TODAYshow) February 15, 2018
You can make donations to the victims by visiting the official GoFundMe page here.
Meanwhile, President Trump addressed the nation earlier today, following yesterday’s mass shooting.
“My fellow Americans, today I speak to a nation in grief,” Trump said. “Our entire nation with one heavy heart is praying for the victims and their families. To every parent, teacher and child who is hurting so badly, we are here for you, whatever you need, whatever we can do, to ease your pain. We are all joined together as one American family and your suffering is our burden also.”
“No child, no teacher, should ever be in danger in an American school,” Trump continued.
“We comfort the grieving and the wounded.”
Then the President took some words from scripture to help comfort the grieving.
“In these moments of heartache and darkness, we hold onto God’s word in scripture: I have heard your prayer and seen your tears, I will heal you,” he declared.
“We trust in that promise, and we hold fast to our fellow Americans in their time of sorrow.”