Passing the test

Six students saved their Spanish teacher’s life at Heritage High in suburban Atlanta.

(Debbie) Shultz’s estranged husband stood wild-eyed in the doorway, teeth gritted, pausing almost for dramatic effect, she recalled. Then he rushed toward her, she said, raising a large knife toward her chest.

That’s when Shultz’s students, 16- and 17-year-old kids, went to her rescue. Several of the youngsters tackled the man, pinning him to the floor and wresting the knife from his hand.

Shultz’s husband, who she’s divorcing, had just been released from a mental institution.

The roll of honor is: Nimesh Patel, 17; Austin Hutchinson, 16; John Bailey, 16; Andy Anderson, 17; Matt Battaglia, 17; and Scott Wigington, 17.

As Hutchinson saw the man pull the knife, “I thought I could run like the rest of the people or I could help,” the student said. “It’s just not right leaving her there.”

Hutchinson and Wigington, son of Rockdale County Sheriff Jeff Wigington, were the first to reach the assailant. Wigington grabbed the hand holding the knife.

The others helped push the man to the ground, at which point Wigington took the knife away from him. The six boys then kept him pinned to the ground.

After police took the attacker away, some of the boys stayed at school to finish taking their finals. Odds are they all passed Spanish II.

Shultz planned to sign the divorce papers today and return to class to thank her students.

In 1999, a deranged student at Heritage shot and wounded six students. Sheriff Jeff Wigington, father of one of yesterday’s heroes, is quoted in the story.

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  1. PJ/Maryland says:

    This story sounds like it comes from another country. No mention of kids being expelled for fighting? Wigington actually had a knife in his hand (briefly), on school grounds! Wouldn’t the normal school procedure be to send the teacher’s husband and the students to weekend counseling or something?

    Well, two bizarre notes:

    Nimesh Patel, 17, was taking a nap after finishing his final when he heard screaming and the scampering of fleeing students. He saw his teacher trying to fend off her assailant.

    “I froze there for a second. Me and a couple of other guys grabbed him and threw him to the ground and basically sat on him until the cops came,” he said.

    Students can take naps at school now? (We’ll attribute the English lapse to excitement, though “me and a couple of other guys” is pretty egregious.)

    “They love Ms. Shultz,” [Principal] Fowler said. “When a teacher has a relationship with the students, this is the payoff.”

    You’d like to think that students would try to save the life of an unpopular teacher, too.

  2. Oh come on, you’ve never heard of a kid falling asleep in class? I was impressed that he was honest enough to admit it. I guess after saving the teacher’s life, he won’t get punished for sleeping.

    And in spoken, non-rehearsed English, plenty of intelligent people say things like “me and a couple of other guys.” In fact, that’s probably the exact phrase I’d use.

  3. At least he didn’t say “a couple of other guys and myself”. That curdles my blood.

  4. I’m surprised the students didn’t proceed to break every bone in this guy’s face, knock out all his teeth, break both his arms and all of his ribs… It would teach the guy a lesson, IMO.

    The only way you deal with violence as this guy was capable of committing is to use overpowering force to make sure he fully understands what will happen if he tries it again.

    However, if our legal system is any indication, this guy will go to a mental hospital, play the M.D.’s for the quacks they are, be good for a while, and get out (and next time, he’ll probably kill someone else, nice huh)?

  5. The guy fell asleep =after=finishing= an exam. I always did that. What was he supposed to do? Stare at the ceiling?

  6. Is it something in the water in Conyers? The PBS special,The shooting and now this

  7. Stop it! These young men do something admirable and you’re picking on their spoken grammar? Get over yourselves, already.

  8. Richard Cook says:

    Looks like the comments section is inhabited by John Houseman playing his best pompous professor role.

  9. PJ/Maryland says:

    The guy fell asleep =after=finishing= an exam. I always did that. What was he supposed to do? Stare at the ceiling?

    At my high school, we could leave after finishing an exam; I guess most schools today aren’t that loose. It’s just the phrase that he “was taking a nap” struck me as bizarre; I had a picture of him sprawled out on a soaf or something. I suppose he was actually dozing off with his head down on his desk.

    Steve, why would you ever start a sentence with “me”? But I said we should attribute the lapse to the excitement.

    I notice no one has picked up on my comment about whether students would save the life of an unpopular teacher…

  10. “I notice no one has picked up on my comment about whether students would save the life of an unpopular teacher…”

    I may just be an optimist, but I’d like to think that the reaction was to the violence, the injustice, of the situation, and that they’d spring into action no matter who (whom?) the victim was. Only in the extreme — almost unimaginable — case, where the victim is a vile, flagrant a-hole would a just person even hesitate to stop an assault like this. These students demonstrated their heroic nature, and I just don’t think that heroism would be compromised by the unpopularity of the victim.

  11. I’m just wondering if the guy went crazy before ofr after he met his wife…. correlation???

  12. **At least he didn’t say “a couple of other guys and myself”. That curdles my blood.**

    I’m curdling right along with you on that one, Laura.

  13. I have been involved in a life or death situation and the correct application of grammar was not foremost on my mind. I can remember stopping at the scene of an automobile accident and seeing a man with blood gushing out of his wounds. Upon seeing something as terrible as that I instinctively blurted out “HOLY S**T!!!!!” as I went running back to my truck for first aid supplies. Moral of the story, kindly reserve judgement if you have not been there…

  14. From the full article:

    After the assailant was taken into custody, the students were provided counseling and allowed to go home if they wanted. Patel remained in school to take his chemistry and history finals.

    Given that Patel declined the opportunity to go home in favor of taking two other final exams, I don’t think it’s fair to imply that he was a slacker merely because he took a nap in between taking another exam and saving his teacher’s life.

  15. I’m with you & your sentiments Joshua, I was impressed by his staying & taking more exams. My nerves would have been rattled. I wish that kid the best in anything in life he chooses to do.

  16. ***Julie*** says:

    I think the kids are wonderful and brave, and should be able to opt out of the rest of their finals, however, that doens’t concern me. I wonder… how did he (the husband) get into the building and to the classroom? I’m sure the front office knew who he was and the situation in their marriage, why didn’t they stop him?

    The school where I work locks all doors save the front door, and any visitor entering the building signs in at the office and wears a name tag.

    I think the school fails it’s exam on student safety.

  17. The word “trailer” appeared in the report. The school ran out of classrooms, and is using mobile structures to take up the slack. Unless these are inside a fenced yard it becomes much harder to provide the same level of security as for a standard school building.

  18. Andy Freeman says:

    What is “a standard school building”?

    Most of the schools that I’ve seen consist of multiple buildings. Many of them have classrooms with doors that go outdoors.

  19. Andy,

    Many newer schools (especially in the south, such as Georgia and Florida) are constructed with one primary building, and occasionally a few small outbuildings.

    The school I attended in Florida in the 1980’s was typical of newer schools in the area; every class except for the driver’s ed building and the metal shop was part of the main building. One could attend classes all day long without leaving the building. This was not a small school–it was designed for 2200 students.

    The High School my sister attended in the Atlanta suburbs a few years later was of a similar design; all of the classrooms were in the same building.

  20. First off, I happen to be a happy student at Heritage High School. Your ignorance did show by your comment with no proof. Mrs. Shultz happens to be a very very well liked teacher at Heritage. She motivates students and makes Spanish fun. Also, Nimesh Patel happens to be a foreign student from India (I do believe) and his English is very well spoken, besides that, he is also taken Spanish so I applaud his efforts. You need to wake up and realize that the matter of the story does not dwell in someone English.. nor does it dwell in someones nap.

    “Wigington actually had a knife in his hand (briefly), on school grounds!”
    If the report was cited correctly, it would further announce that he then threw it out of the door. I happen to be by the scene of the incident when it happened and someones correct use of the English language or who touched the knife or didnt.. wasnt on anyones mind. The guy continued to try to hurt people even after being handcuffed. The officer, Dept. Shirley (in case you just need reference) had to clip his knees and pin him down to get him to shut up.

    As mad as I am to see this nonsense.. I still feel ashamed that you were brought up to be so ignorant.

  21. I am Debbie Shultz, the teacher at Heritage High School who was stabbed! I accidently happened upon this site while looking for other information! I want to defend Nimesh “for taking a nap..” or do I want to defend myself? This was a FINAL EXAM…he was finished…snoozing allowed…END OF EXPLANATION! Scott Wigington and the others demonstrated bravery beyong their years…how many of you Monday morning quarterbacks would have run TOWARD a crazy person brandishing a 12 inch butcher knife in a “for real” situation? I am truly glad that my classroom that day was NOT occupied by PROFESSIONAL GRAMMARIANS!!!!! As for whether Heritage High School students would have come to the rescue of an “unpopular teacher”?…Some of you who have written could use an all expense paid trip to Heritage High School to take a life lesson in dignity and bravery from the MAJORITY of HHS students…that ALL life is valuable with no regard for POPULARITY! ABSOLUTELY they WOULD HAVE SAVED ANYONE who was in such need!!!! Oh…sorry…I just gave away the last all expense paid trip! Perhaps this written testimony will suffice!! As for my ex going crazy before…or after he met me…I owe no explanation…God knows my heart…I will share this little detail with you, however: I stayed beside this sick, dangerous man for three years so he would not be WITHOUT HEALTH INSURANCE! I cared for him generously and lovingly. The approval of public sentiment is NOT what I seek…”Well done…good and faithful servant…welcome to My Kingdom” are the only words I long to hear! Shame on you ADULTS for bashing true heroes!!! I believes my students are more adult in their conduct and beliefs than you will ever be! Long ago I learned…”To those who believe…no evidence is necessary. To those who do not…NO evidence is ENOUGH!” May God help those who do not BELIEVE in good and righteous acts and people. I will pray for you. To those of you who have been a support and defense…bless you! I do believe in man’s intrinsic goodness! Keep speaking for the right and the just!
    Oh…one last thing…”ME and my students” will forever love one another with a depth that most of you will never have the abilty to comprehend. The best gift “me and my kids” can give y’all (we are in Georgia, ya know…)is the wish that you will experience the caliber of true, selfless love and giving we have already shared in YOUR lifetime!
    You are in my prayers…just DON’T PICK ON MY KIDS EVER AGAIN!
    Sincerely, Debbie Shultz


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