‘The Moral High Ground’: Mexican Kindergarten Teacher Honored for Protecting Students during Drug War Battle
A kindergarten teacher in northern Mexico was honored by her state governor Monday for her courageous protection of her 15 students during a drug war firefight outside the school. Martha Rivera Alanis, age 33, calmly ordered her class to duck and lie flat on the ground as bullets began flying furiously outside. She captured it all on her cellphone camera.
According to the Associated Press, Nuevo Leon state Governor Rodrigo Medina de la Cruz presented Rivera with a certificate praising her “outstanding civic courage” under terrifying circumstances during Friday’s incident in Monterrey.
“Of course, I was afraid,” she said outside the governor’s office Monday. “But I tell you, my kids get me through it.”
In the video, Rivera gently coaxes her students to take cover and lie flat. “No, my love, nothing is going to happen, just put your little face on the floor,” she tells one frightened little girl.
Then gunfire erupts outside. What they were hearing was the sound of gunmen slaughtering five people at a taxi stand a block away.
The teacher then leads the class in singing a song from the popular TV series “Barney and Friends.” “If the rain drops were chocolate, I would love to be there, opening my mouth to taste them,” they sing.
“My only thought was to take their minds off that noise,” she said. “So I thought of that song.”
Rivera, who is herself the mother of two young children, said her students reacted to the shooting exactly as they had prepared. And prepare they must in a region that has been plagued by violence in recent years as rival drug cartels battle for turf and supremacy. The AP reports that 35,000 Mexicans have been killed by drug violence in the last four years.
“We do drills constantly, because the area where we are is a high-risk zone,” she explained, saying her students “behaved in the way we had practiced.”
She said her students set a positive example for the rest of the city to follow.
“I’m going to carry on, of course it is possible,” she said. “If my 5- and 6-year-olds can do it, it is up to the rest of us to carry on.”
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