On Tuesday, a disturbed 20 year old gunman entered a Georgia elementary school armed with an AK-47 type assault rifle and nearly 500 rounds of ammunition. He fired some shots and took school bookkeeper Antoinette Tuff hostage, telling her he was off his medication, was not mentally stable and was ready to kill and be killed.
Remarkably, Tuff stayed calm and respectful and persuaded the man to stay with her, diverting him from going into the school yard where children would be in danger. Her diversion afforded precious time for the children to escape. She called 911 and interceded between the police emergency dispatcher and the gunman. Throughout the extended ordeal, she listened to the gunman and appealed to him on a human level, extending hope to him and relating to him by talking about her own troubles. She explained how she had contemplated suicide but that things got better for her and they could for him, too. In a compassionate and motherly fashion, she showed him a way out and appealed to his better nature.
The incident ended when she talked the man through surrendering without anyone being hurt. You can read more about this story and listen to the extraordinary 911 tapes in full on the Atlanta Constitution coverage of the incident
In one of the many news interviews she later conducted, she described a technique she had learned in her own life that helped her to cope with tragedy and fear: you just have to “push through the pain” and go on. Below is a video clip of an interview with Tuff explaining how she got through the ordeal.
Alert: this is an embedded clip from WSBTV that is preceded by advertising. If your organization blocks videos, here is a link to the story and the clip: http://www.wsbtv.com/videos/news/tuff-says-faith-life-experience-saw-her-through/v9fKq/

People often throw around the word “hero” rather loosely – this is a real-life example of heroism – grace under pressure, courage under fire. The world needs more heroes like Antoinette Tuff and more appreciation for our hard-working school personnel. This woman kept herself in harm’s way to protect children in her charge – incredible bravery.
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