Focusing on school safety

By TONY NIVENS / Community Columnist

“Coach Evers…Coach Evers, There is a man in the locker room with a gun! Words no one wants to hear,” said Coach Sandy Evers, now physical education teacher at Chelsea’s Forest Oaks Elementary. “They still ring in my ears; hit me hard in the gut when I think back a year ago.”

: “I am especially proud to serve on the Shelby County District Safety Team.  Because of the situation I encountered – I feel I have valuable experience to learn from.  It’s nice to have a voice in helping improve the overall safety within our schools. I appreciate the opportunity,” said Sandy Evers. (Contributed)

“I am especially proud to serve on the Shelby County District Safety Team. Because of the situation I encountered – I feel I have valuable experience to learn from. It’s nice to have a voice in helping improve the overall safety within our schools. I appreciate the opportunity,” said Sandy Evers. (Contributed)

Most do not know Evers was the teacher involved in the gun incident last February at Chelsea Middle School, but most who know, call her a hero.

“God placed you between our girls and the man for a reason,” wrote Dawn Reeves, mother of one of the girls Evers pulled from danger. “My family is eternally grateful for your sense of calm, immediacy and willingness to allow God to use you. It was my most difficult day as a mother. Two sentences I will never forget… ‘Mom, I knew God was with me. Coach Evers saved us!’ We owe you an enormous debt of gratitude!”

Currently, Evers serves on the Shelby County District Safety Team. The committee consists of teachers, principals, emergency medical assistance, parents, Shelby County Sheriff’s Office, fire department and is chaired by Dr. Lewis Brooks, assistant superintendent.

“We have made several good changes to school safety procedures like the automated notification system and lock down drills,” said Billy Clemons, parental representative to the committee. “I am anxious to let people know what we have done. Dr Brooks is working on a document of changes; he should be ready to publish it soon.”

“We now have professional development with schools about safety, ongoing training for teachers and special training with local law enforcement,” said Evers. “We are excited to have law enforcement present in every Shelby County school. Each school has individually addressed the visitor process. For example, Forest Oaks has to buzz visitors through a secondary door for entrance beyond the office.”

Of that day, Evers said, “It was just not my time to go. The man had a gun to my head. I was able to pull four girls away. There were unfortunately five more in the locker room when he slammed the door.”

“I thank God for putting me in that situation-giving me wisdom of quick thinking and a sense of calm,” she said. “The day ended with no one hurt physically and I have a greater respect for how numbered our days are.”