JaNiece Jenkins of New Jersey has been teaching for 14 years. In those years, she’s certainly changed lives — but earlier in April, she saved one.
It was just another day in the third-grade math class at East Orange Community Charter School until one of her students found himself in a dangerous predicament.
Robert Stonaker, 9, had been trying to get the cap off of his water bottle, but it was proving to be more difficult than he anticipated. After trying and failing to remove the cap with his hands, he tried his teeth — and that’s when the trouble started.
“When he tried his teeth… he squeezed [the water bottle] and then the cap went down his throat,” Jenkins told Fox News. “So he panicked, he tried to go to the sink and spit it out and then he ran over to me and I just went into action.”
“I just went on and just said, ‘OK, he needs my help, let me help him.’ And I went right into action based off my training.”
Thankfully, Jenkins had just recently completed a combined CPR and first aid course, though she never guessed it would come in handy so soon.
Stonaker said the added force of the water when he squeezed the bottle is what really crammed the piece of plastic down his throat.
“I went to the top, and then I squeezed it, and then the water pushed on the bottle and then it squirted the cap into my throat,” he said, according to News 12 Bronx.
“And I started pointing at my throat…and then she noticed I couldn’t talk, because if I could talk, I would have said it. I wouldn’t point to my throat.”
The whole thing was caught on camera, and the video has since been shared publicly to commend Jenkins and her quick actions.
The clip shows the scared boy first running toward the back of the classroom to try the sink, then running up to Jenkins and motioning at his throat, mouthing the words he couldn’t speak.
She quickly began to perform the Heimlich maneuver on him, and within three tries the bottle cap can be seen shooting out of the boy’s mouth and onto the floor.
But her true concern shows itself afterward, in the tenderness with which she cradles his head in her hands and then grabs a tissue to dab at his face, keeping a hand on his shoulder.
After making sure the rest of the class was OK, she took the boy to the nurse. It wasn’t until later, watching the viral video of her lifesaving efforts, that the seriousness of the situation really hit her.
“Afterwards, I saw the video and then I was like, ‘Oh, this really happened,’” she said. “… and I got all emotional.”
The boy and his family also gave emotional thank-yous, recognizing Jenkins are their personal hero.
“Thank you for, for being there, for being heroic,” the boy’s father said. “And from my family to you and my extended family, thank you very much.”
Her student had a short, sweet message for her: “I love you.”