With minutes to go before dismissal on the next-to-last day of school at Hays Elementary in Rockwall, Texas, excited students and their teachers were forced to shift gears as severe storms moved in Wednesday afternoon.
Students and teachers were told to go into shelter mode as a tornado moved toward them, but fourth-grade teacher Megan Parson knew there were dozens of parents still outside in the carpool line.
Parson was one of several teachers sent out to alert the parents.
“We’re knocking on windows, we’re running down the sidewalk and we’re telling them you need to come in. You need to seek shelter,” said Parson.
Parson said she did her best to wave out those at the end of the line. But when she couldn’t get their attention, she decided her only option was to run towards them.
Parson was captured in a photo running barefoot, her red kimono flying in the wind like a cape, as a tornado spiraled in the dark skies above her.
She appears to be racing the tornado, which she had no idea was just a few miles away.
“My focus was on those cars. Is anyone in there? If they’re in there, get them out as fast as I possibly can. My focus was just on those families, our Hays family, and making sure they were ok,” Parson said.
In the day since, it’s an image that’s been shared hundreds of times by people near and far hailing the teacher a hero.
But looking back, Parson points out her cape was simply a kimono and her superhero actions, simply her job.
“This is what we do. This is how teachers are trained. We care for our family. We care for our Rockwall family,” said Parson.
And if she is willing to try the “hero” title on for size, she wants everyone to know she was far from alone.
“If there weren’t for the people watching the kids, if there weren’t people allowing us to go out, if there weren’t people holding the doors, if there weren’t people telling us we needed to go into shelter mode, then it could have been a much different story. So honestly, everyone deserves a little piece of that title,” said Parson.
No one was injured in Wednesday’s storm in Rockwall. The National Weather Service later determined it was an EF-0 tornado.