Greenville County Schools honors two teachers for saving students

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Board member Roger Meek, left, and first-grade teacher Keller Sutherland, right, poses with Ellen Woodside Elementary School student Cameron at a board meeting on Feb. 26.

An Ellen Woodside Elementary School teacher went viral for her quick thinking when she spotted a young student biking down a four-lane highway in February; less than a week later, a teacher at Plain Elementary received widespread praise after she saved a student from choking in the cafeteria.

Now, both of them have been honored by Greenville County Schools with a Miracle Worker Award.

“Tonight it is our honor to present the Miracle Worker Award to two heroic Greenville County Schools teachers,” board member Roger Meek said at the Feb. 26 meeting.

Meek said the award was created in 1996 to honor people who go “beyond the call of duty.”

When first-grade teacher Keller Sutherland saw a young child riding his bicycle down U.S. Highway 25 while on her way home from work, she felt something was wrong and pulled over.

She didn’t know until she approached the child that it was Cameron — a student she had taught the previous year.

“I flipped my car around, turned around, came up behind him, and realized when I pulled up — ‘Oh my gosh, that’s Cameron,'” Sutherland said in a video recorded by the district.

Cameron told her his dad was having a diabetic episode and was unconscious. Cameron had initially tried to dial 911 but didn’t know the code to unlock his dad’s cellphone, so he decided to bike to his grandmother’s house to get help.

“I went to get help at the neighbor’s, and neither of the neighbors were home, so I got on my bike and tried to go to my grandma’s,” Cameron said in the video.

Sutherland was able to call emergency services for Cameron’s dad and get him back home.

After the incident, Ellen Woodside broadcast a news program at the school showing its students how to call 911 on Android and iPhones when they’re locked without having to use a passcode.

“I was just thankful God placed me there and had a familiar face for Cameron,” Sutherland said.

Five days later, second-grade Plain Elementary teacher Tina Hamilton was approached by her student, Dorian Diaz, who was choking on a piece of ham in the cafeteria.

Plain Elementary second-grade teacher Tina Hamilton, left, receives an award from board member Lisa Wells for saving one of her students, Dorian Diaz, center, from choking.

“I was eating my Lunchable,” Dorian said in a video interview recorded by the district. “The ham is my favorite thing — sometimes I just eat the ham — and I choked on it.”

Hamilton said she felt a moment of panic before remembering the district training videos that show how to do the Heimlich maneuver.

“I could tell his face was red, he was clearly scared, and I just felt like something was wrong,” Hamilton said in the video. “I tried to talk with him and he couldn’t speak back, and at that moment I knew I had to do something.”

Hamilton said she and Dorian both cried after she dislodged the food stuck in his throat.

“I really love Mrs. Hamilton,” Dorian said. “Teachers sometimes have to be like an adult — well they are, but sometimes they feel like parents.”

Cameron and Dorian both came with their families to the school board meeting where Sutherland and Hamilton were honored with the Miracle Worker Awards.

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