Tuff, 48, didn't squander the momentary fame: She co-wrote a book — "Prepared for a Purpose: The Inspiring True Story of How One Woman Saved an Atlanta School Under Siege" — that has been garnering praise on Amazon. She started a foundation — Kids on the Move for Success — that has been handing out college scholarships. And she changed careers — from school bookkeeper to professional speaker and road warrior.
“No matter what your business struggles, financial worries, or leadership hurdles,” her promotional materials say, “invite Antoinette Tuff to your organization today to share her inspirational and practical message … .”
Instead of preparing each day to greet people in a school office, Tuff said she wakes up every morning and thinks about “whose life are we going to change today?” She’s traveled to engagements across the country and in Canada, she said, and has fielded interviews from across the Atlantic. At an event at McNair at 5 p.m. Wednesday, she said she will reveal the names of seven new scholarship winners selected by the board of her organization.
Tuff had a difficult childhood and had recently suffered a personal blow when Hill, seeming suicidal, entered the elementary school near Decatur. Her husband of 33 years had left her. She found it easy to empathize with Hill, whom she said she now loves “unconditionally.”
“He’s a young man who was crying out for help,” she said. “I had moments where I tried to take my own life. So I knew where he was coming from.”
Tuff was unwilling to talk about prosaic matters like school security or whether there should be more of it at McNair and other schools in general. When asked if there was enough the day Hill slipped past a locked door into the main school entrance, she responded with her own question, noting that there were no armed officers around.
“What do you mean enough?” she asked. “Our security was Jesus.”