LINDEN — A quick-thinking middle school teacher managed to stop a moving vehicle from jumping a curb toward a group of students during the first day of classes on Wednesday.

Valerie Tauriello, Soehl Middle School health and physical education teacher, was being cheered as a hero on Thursday for her fast reaction caught on school surveillance video.

“It was a situation where a lot of people could have become injured,” Tauriello said.

She was on drop-off duty outside the school Wednesday morning, when a parent pulled up and jumped out of a vehicle, with what Tauriello said appeared to be a student’s forgotten iPad.

However, the vehicle was not in park and started to roll forward, which caught a colleague's attention.

Tauriello, who also is the head softball coach for Linden High School, shouted to another teacher to get some students standing a short distance ahead to move, before springing into action.

Her athletic training kicked in, despite the fact that she was wearing a boot on her foot for an old injury that was acting up.

Soehl Middle School Principal Gwendolyn Long said Tauriello thinks of the students safety first.

“In a matter of seconds she informed the father of what’s going on, informed the staff to get the kids out of the way, then thought enough to risk her life, because she could have gotten injured,” Long said of Tauriello.

“This is the person she is, and this is every day with Ms. Tauriello, thinking of our students first. The Soehl Middle School family is just blessed to have her.”

“It was very hard jumping into a moving car. I never realized that would be a difficult task,” Tauriello noted in a written release about the situation.

She told New Jersey 101.5 that some sixth-graders she met for the first time later that day recognized her as “that teacher who jumped into the moving car.”

“I’m just glad everybody’s OK,” she said. “It could have been bad.”

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