updated 05/21/2013 AT 10:00 AM ET
•originally published 05/21/2013 AT 10:55 AM ET
To be a teacher is already to be a hero, but during Monday’s monstrous tornado in the suburbs of Oklahoma City, Rhonda Crosswhite put her life directly on the line after first seeing that several of her students had taken refuge only moments before the twister devastated their school.
“I was in a [bathroom] stall with some kids and it just started coming down, so I laid on top of them,” the sixth-grade teacher at Plaza Towers Elementary in Moore, Okla., told Savannah Guthrie on Tuesday’s Today show. “One of my little boys just kept saying, ‘I love you, I love you, please don’t die with me.’ But we’re okay. We made it out.”
All of the children who were with her are now safe, there was one minor injury – a cut to the head, said Crosswhite – and she herself emerged with only some scrapes on her feet, which she called “irrelevant, considering what could have happened.”