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'Your instincts take over' Guilford County Schools teacher saves choking student's life

Fourth-grade teacher Drew Simpson is the district's Employee of the Month because of his life-saving efforts.

GIBSONVILLE, N.C. — The January Guilford County Schools Employee of the Month pick was a no-brainer for the district. 

A GCS spokesperson says not only is Drew Simpson an exceptional fourth-grade teacher on a daily basis, he saved a student's life recently.

On December 2, a child started choking on food in the cafeteria of Gibsonville Elementary. 

"When I looked, he was down on his knees and I could definitely tell something was wrong," Simpson stated.

So he jumped into action by performing the Heimlich maneuver.

"It wasn't coming out at first so I bent him over just a little over my fist and I was able to pick him up a couple of times, and when I did thankfully it came out."

Simpson is a trained first responder because of his additional coaching duties at Northeast High. All Guilford County Schools coaches are required to be CPR certified.

"You really kind of black out and your adrenaline takes over and your instincts take over."

The child began breathing again and the call to 911 was canceled.

"He was able to cough and talk to me after that and I got him some water."

The student didn't have to go to the hospital and returned to classes that same day. 

"When you do first aid training they say 'I hope you never have to use it, but pay attention just in case you do,' and I’m definitely thankful that I had the training and I was able to help him."

Afterward, the gravity of the situation sunk in for Simpson. 

"I was shaken to be honest with you," Simpson explained. "I had to take myself away and get myself together because I was a little jittery, when the adrenaline goes away you realize what just happened."

Principal Jessica Bohn nominated Simpson for Employee of the Month following that life-saving day but emphasized that's not the only reason why.

“Mr. Simpson is also an excellent reading teacher who connects with his students and holds them to high expectations,” Bohn wrote in her nomination. “Not only that, but this teacher is a coach for Northeast High, serves as a male mentor and helps lead our positive behavior and classroom management efforts.”

Simpson received a $50 gift card to Sam’s Club, which has given nearly $9,000 to outstanding GCS employees since 2005. 

Simpson has 15 years of experience as a teacher at Gibsonville Elementary. He's also a soccer and baseball coach at Northeast Guilford.

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