Teacher at Florida High School Shooting is Mount Carmel Native

MOUNT CARMEL -- A teacher at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida is from central Pennsylvania.

Math teacher Jim Gard was born and raised in Mount Carmel.

Gard is a 1978 graduate of Mount Carmel Area School District. He's been a teacher in Parkland, Florida for 36 years.

On Wednesday, some of his family in Mount Carmel saw him on television in a way they never expected.

People were glued to their televisions as details of the Florida school shooting unfolded. A teenager killed 17 people and hurt at least a dozen more.

"We were just trained in this three weeks ago," Gard said. "We went over it with all of our kids the day after we were trained."

Gard, from Mount Carmel, is credited with protecting the students in his classroom.

Nick and Shirley Gard are Jim's uncle and aunt. They were shocked when they found out it was their nephew's school where the mass shooting happened.

"That's our family and we're a close-knit family," Nick Gard said.

"Nick and I got very upset about it, how close, anything could have happened," Shirley Gard added.

Jim Gard is credited with protecting his students during the shooting. He even made police give identification when they knocked on his classroom door.

"That doesn't surprise you. No, not with him. He would do something like that. He'd be very cautious, plus he said they went through some of that stuff very recently," Nick Gard said.

"He used his head. His knowledge stood out for the children," Shirley Gard said.

Nick hasn't talked to his nephew yet but he spoke with his brother, Jim's dad. The family is shaken up but staying strong. Nick and Shirley are proud of their nephew.

"He knew what to do in that situation, which is a hard situation to be in because you never want to be in that situation," Shirley added.

The Gards tell Newswatch 16 they are grateful their nephew survived but wish they could say the same for everyone at that Florida high school.


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