Most days, teaching is a methodical, nuanced sort of heroism that is only recognized as such in retrospect.
January 18th wasn’t like most days in Room 118, aka Little Teapot, at Woodlawn Preschool.
The teaching team of Kati Grundey, Emily Ward and Ashley Jeffers was overseeing lunchtime for their students. Their fourth teammate, Lisa Jackson, was on her own lunch break.
Three-year-old Easton Peterson was enjoying his pancakes and apple slices – until he began choking and gasping. His lips were turning blue when Grundey took charge and applied the Heimlich maneuver to restore Easton’s breathing.
“My little boy wouldn’t be here today if not for Miss Grundey,” said Easton’s mom Audra when life was finally back to normal after an incident that resulted in a short hospital stay to fully clear Easton’s airway.
Usually when food goes “down the wrong pipe,” corrective bodily responses like coughing and gagging reroute it. When they fail, decisive action is required.
Grundey, who’s been at Woodlawn for five years since graduating from the University of Northern Iowa, knew what to do because her training includes certification in CPR and first aid. Recertification is required every two years.
“I’ve been trained in those procedures since I started working in early childhood care when I was 18,” she said. “But this was the first time I’ve ever had to do the real thing.”
She never flinched.
“Teachers never get enough credit,” said Easton’s mom when she called to make sure that Miss Grundey, who she now considers to be “like family,” got her fair share for giving Easton a lifesaving hug.
Easton posed for photos with his teacher while sporting a Captain America sweatshirt.
Teachers might not be as marketable as fictional superheroes, but the differences they make are real.