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Gwinnett teacher pushing for change after being stabbed by student with butcher knife

The promise of a surprise from a student almost cost this teacher her life.

GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. — It started as just another October school day.

Students at Trickum Middle School in Lilburn had just been dismissed from Jennifer Guyre’s room to change classes.

Students were filtering out of the eight grade language arts teacher’s classroom when she said she was approached by a 13-year-old student. She said he told her he had a surprise for her – one that was too big to carry.

"I don't remember exactly what he said, but it was something like, 'it’s a good surprise. You're going to like it, I promise’," Guyre said.

But Guyer said that “promise” delivered by a student in her classroom almost killed her.

"I kept thinking, whatever it was it must be really awkward if he was having that much trouble getting it out of his book bag," she recalled.

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And then it happened.

"He kind of swung and I felt an impact," she described.

Then came an awful pain in her chest.

“At first it felt like he had just punched me," Guyre said. But it turned out to be something much more devious.

PREVIOUS: Student stabs middle school teacher with butcher knife, police say

“When I did catch my breath and looked up, he had moved into the back corner of the room and that's when I had saw the knife," Guyre said.

It was an 8-inch butcher knife.

Credit: WXIA

Guyre remembered thinking the boy seemed pleased.

“At that point, he walked forward and held the knife out and smiled so I could see my own blood on the tip of the knife,” she described. “That's when I had realized that something had gone terribly, terribly wrong."

With her heart racing and the student still smiling clutching the butcher knife, Guyre said she checked the wound.

“I looked down, and I pulled my shirt out, and I could see there was a slice in my shirt,” she said. “There was blood spreading down toward my stomach."

Guyre said she was having trouble breathing because the knife, she later learned, had punctured her lung. She said she tried to stay calm and not panic.

“I knew I needed to put pressure on the wound, so that was the first thing I did,” Guyre explained.

But even after the violent attack, Guyre said the 13-year-old suspect wasn't done just yet. After stabbing her lung with the butcher knife, he reportedly grabbed a fellow student – and put a knife to the middle schooler's throat.

“She didn't say anything, but my eyes caught hers and I could see the terror in her face,” Guyre recounted. “I will never forget the look in her eyes when I saw it."

Guyre said she tried talking down her attacker.

“I said, ‘put the knife down. It’s not worth it,’ and he was saying, ‘as long as no one leaves, she won't get hurt’," Guyre recalled.

Suddenly, another teacher stepped into the classroom and Guyre immediately warned her.

"The knife is real. He stabbed me. We need to get help," she advised.

Credit: WXIA

As her fellow teacher ran to get help, Guyre began to lose consciousness.

"My vision did go black, so I really didn't know what was going on," she said.

Guyre eventually passed out and had to be hospitalized. She later learned the hostage was rescued and the 13-year-old suspect was ultimately taken into custody by a school resource officer. The school went on a soft lockdown while the student was removed from campus.

PHOTOS: Trickum Middle School student arrested after stabbing teacher

It took three weeks after the attack for Guyre to return to the classroom. Police beefed up their presence at the middle school in the day after the attack. But Guyre is advocating for more permanent changes to make schools – and the teachers and students who attend them – safer so that what happened to her doesn’t happen to anyone else.  

Credit: WXIA

Guyre is now lobbying the Gwinnett County School Board to ban all backpacks from the classroom.

"The fact of the matter is, if he had not had his backpack, he could not have stabbed me with an eight-inch long butcher knife," she said.

Guyre said there’s no need from them, now, because they don’t use text books anymore.

"Most stuff we print out or its online, so, they have no need for book bags during the day,” she explained. “So, there would be no issue with them putting their book bags in the locker in the morning and fetching them at the end of the day on the way out to the bus."

School officials told 11Alive there are no metal detectors at the school and students are not searched as they enter.

Guyre said she's now on a mission to make this a district and possibly a state-wide policy.

"Because if someone else gets hurt and I do nothing then that's blood on my hands,” Guyre concluded.

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