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Federal Way teacher brings dead custodian back to life
Thomas Jefferson High School's Monica Watchie was honored by Federal Way Public Schools during the district's April 10 board meeting.
Watchie, who is the instructor for the Emergency Response Program at TJ, helped save the life of the high school's chief custodian last fall.
"It's not often that we get to recognize someone who really is the epitome of the definition of a hero," said Nancy Hawkins, director of career and technical education for Federal Way Public Schools (FWPS). "You will probably remember meeting Monica last spring when we came with her students who had become the state champions in CPR and first aid. And I told you at that time, if you're ever going to have a heart attack and collapse, perhaps being at TJ would be the best place to do that. Little did I know, that that was a bit prophetic, because indeed this fall, there was an incident at TJ in which Monica saved a life."
Liz Drake, principal at TJ, described what happened that day — and Watchie's heroic efforts.
"Every day, our teachers make a difference in our students' lives. It's not every day that we have a teacher save a life," she said. "Imagine…school's finished. It's a Friday, it's around 2:30 and our chief custodian is found not breathing. He is discovered dead."
"A call goes out to Monica. She responds within two-and-a-half minutes. She's there with all of her equipment, doing CPR," Drake said. "She's doing it, and she brings our chief custodian back to life. Amazing."
Outside of that frightening incident, Drake said Watchie was also on hand this year in the blink of an eye when a car crashed into a tree near the school. Drake said Watchie and her students responded in a matter of minutes in that incident.
"It's no wonder that she has, yet again, a huge number of students going to state this coming weekend," Drake said.
Assistant Superintendent Mark Davidson also gave kudos to Watchie, who turned down the opportunity to speak.
"I would have to say, because Monica is way too humble…She's also the pride of the Dash Point Fire Department, and you may also find her at The Lobster Shop, working as well," Davidson said.
Watchie has been a teacher at Thomas Jefferson High School for 27 years and has been a firefighter for the Browns Point-Dash Point fire department for 20 years. At TJ, Watchie said she teaches the state's only high school EMT first responder program.