A first-grade teacher in New Britain saved a child’s life earlier this month and the school district honored her as a hero on Monday night.
On Friday, Oct. 9, Jessica Leon, a teacher at the DiLoreto School, noticed that one of her students was in distress, so she rushed to check on him.
She thought he was going to be sick, but quickly realized something was seriously wrong.
The boy had inadvertently swallowed the cap of a water bottle while taking a sip of water and was choking, according to school officials.
"He put his hand right over his neck and I just made that connection," Leon said. "I looked at his water bottle and said, 'Oh my goodness, there's no cap on there.'"
Leon jumped into action, performed the Heimlich maneuver, and dislodged the cap from the little boy’s throat.
"It seemed at first it just wasn't working. And, it was, you know, the second time, the third time and I looked up and said, 'Please, God. Help me. This can't happen. And then finally, he just threw up the cap."
"I have my son, so it's happy for me," Vanessa Martinez, the boy's mom, said. "She's a good teacher."
The Consolidated School District of New Britain honored Leon at the Board of Education meeting on Monday and Principal Alejandro Ortiz called her a true DiLoreto hero.
"If she didn't act as quickly as she did, unfortunately, the story could have been a different outcome," Ortiz said.
Supt. Kelt Cooper said he couldn’t be more proud to have Leon as part of the district and presented her with an award.
Leon said she will never forget that day earlier this month.
“I would like to thank the entire New Britain family and everyone here for your support. From the parents to the wonderful administrators I get to work with every day, I am truly grateful to be a part of this district,” Leon said. “I appreciate the recognition bestowed upon me and I will forever hold this in my heart. I thank God because he was with me that day. I am truly touched by the support and admiration that has been shown in the e-mails and the outpouring of support I have received from students to parents and just about everyone. Thank you so much!”
Leon has been teaching for about 20 years and has never had to do anything like this, but she credits her annual teacher training for knowing how to act in the situation.