Classroom connection: Assignment leads to realization Boerne teacher once saved student's life

Teacher was once a paramedic who treated student as a toddler

BOERNE, Texas – A teacher can be a very influential person in a student's life. One Boerne Middle School teacher has a bond with one of her sixth-grade students that surpasses most -- she once helped save the girl's life.

Hailey Winn has been in Jennifer Alexander's sixth-grade English class for a couple months, but neither had any idea that their paths had crossed before, until this week.

Alexander assigned her students to write a story about their lives. In a pre-writing assignment, the student's created a life map of significant events. A major life event for Hailey happened when she was just a year old. She was run over by a riding lawn mower in Bandera and nearly lost her life.

When Hailey showed Alexander her life map, Alexander made the connection.

"I said to her, 'You know what, Hailey, my husband and I were actually there that day.' And she stopped for a second, and I said, 'We drove you to the helicopter.'"

Alexander and her now-husband, Brett Humphus, were paramedics in Bandera in 2007. When they were dispatched that day in April, they made the quick decision to call for a medical helicopter from San Antonio before they even saw Hailey, because her injuries sounded very serious.

Hailey had a broken leg, and an injury to her hand that was so severe, her grandmother thought it may have been cut off. She was losing a lot of blood.

"They saved her life. They were there. They were there right away," Hailey's grandmother, Tammy Winn said.

The medical chopper was not able to land in the location where the accident happened, so Alexander and Humphus drove Hailey to Bandera Downs to meet the helicopter crew. They handed her over that day, never knowing the outcome.

"When we handed her over to that flight crew, we were done. She had a horrible hand injury, a horrible leg injury, she's so small and you have those thoughts in your mind, 'I hope she keeps her leg. I hope she's able to use that hand.' But you never hear anything else," Alexander said.

It took a whole team of doctors to first save Hailey's life, and then save her hand and leg. She was in surgery for about six hours and then was in intensive care for about two weeks.

Alexander said it was pretty amazing to learn that tiny toddler recovered from her injuries and is now one of her students. Hailey not only has full function of her hand, she has also become a talented artist.

"You meet people on the worst day of their lives and you're just part of a huge team and you so seldom see the ending of it," Alexander said. 

Tammy Winn said she's always wanted to thank the people responsible for saving granddaughter's life and she finally got the chance Wednesday morning.

"I'm so grateful for them," Winn said. "We've got this bond more than a parent-teacher relationship now. It goes way deeper than that."

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