Lily Raymond, 17, rushes to embrace her brother Ethan Raymond, 11, as a teacher escorts him away from Briarwood Elementary school after a tornado destroyed the school in south Oklahoma City on Monday
Lily Raymond, 17, rushes to embrace her brother Ethan Raymond, 11, as a teacher escorts him away from Briarwood Elementary school after a tornado destroyed the school in south Oklahoma City on Monday. (Paul Hellstern, The Oklahoman) ( | )

As we grieve for those who lost so much in the monster tornado that struck Oklahoma on Monday, we also find ourselves buoyed by emerging stories of heroism.

We are particularly moved by anecdotes of teachers in Moore, the town devastated by the twister, who put themselves in peril to protect their students.

In this day and age, when teachers at times feel unappreciated or under siege by policy makers, it's important to recognize the selflessness of their actions.

Their heroics in the face of danger underscore the reason many of them likely got into education to begin with: They care deeply about children.

The stories are poignant and worth repeating.

When the tornado alarm went off at Plaza Towers Elementary, students hustled into the hallways. One teacher herded as many as possible into a bathroom, and another used her body to protect students.

After the tornado passed, they were surrounded by the wreckage of their school, but unharmed.

One sixth-grade teacher, who picked her way through the rubble after the tornado, said she managed to shield a half-dozen pupils.

"I was on top of six kids," she said, according to CNN. "I was lying on top. All of mine are OK."


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And another vignette from Plaza Towers: "We had to pull a car off a teacher and she had three little kids underneath her," one first responder, in tears, told an Oklahoma City television station. "Good job, teach."

At nearby Briarwood Elementary, students also scrambled into the hallways. One third-grade teacher ushered as many as she could into a closet and shielded them with her arms and held their heads down.

The wind from the tornado was so strong it pulled glasses from the faces of children. The boy who told this story to his father was cut and bruised, but otherwise all right.

And at a day care facility, the staff of the AgapeLand Learning Center hurried 15 children into bathrooms, covered them with a blanket and sang "You Are My Sunshine" as the tornado ripped the roof off the building.

The children escaped without a scratch, assistant director Cathy Wilson told The New York Times.

When confronted with a storm of historic proportions, these teachers — and assuredly others — stepped up to protect their students the best they could. They deserve recognition and thanks.