Teacher bends the rules to save students from Oklahoma tornado

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by BRETT SHIPP

WFAA

Posted on May 22, 2013 at 5:41 PM

Updated Thursday, Dec 5 at 5:50 PM

MOORE, Oklahoma — If what you see looking at Briarwood Elementary School is all you knew about its fate, you would miss some amazing stories of heroism and fate.

Gina Janzen, a second grade teacher at the school, recounts what happened on Monday afternoon.

"I poked my head out the door and there was our P.E. teacher standing there and he says, 'We're gonna take a direct hit.'"

Janzen's classroom on the west side of the building was in line with the massive storm. So she decided to bend school rules and move her students — and her own two children — to an interior bathroom.

That's when the tornado struck.

"Everything hit the building and the alarms went off, and then everything sucked up," Janzen said. "We all had dictionaries on our heads and I lost my dictionary, and then the walls just caved in on us."

Janzen said she, her students and her children were all pinned under cinder blocks and other debris. They were trapped until rescue workers could arrive.

"They couldn't really see all the children because they were under the rubble," she said. "They were standing on it and someone was screaming, 'There's kids under there!' And so they stepped off and started throwing all the cinder blocks off of them."

Everyone at Briarwood Elementary was frazzled by the experience, but thankful that bending the rules paid off.

Most everyone at the school escaped with only minor injuries.

E-mail bshipp@wfaa.com

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