EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – A simple invention is making a difference between life and death after a former local teacher came up with a safety lock for school lockdowns. 

Crystal Salcido was an English teacher in El Paso for about a decade when she decided to quit her job to fully dedicate her time to her invention, a lock named Slon. 

The idea came to her in 2017, but after a terrifying lockdown in her school in 2019, she made the idea into reality. Salcido described the lockdown as both terrifying for her students and her colleagues, who were most concerned about the outdated doors in schools that can only be locked from the outside. 

“They have to open the door and expose themselves and potentially their students to an active threat in order to secure their door,” Salcido explained. 

She said many classroom doors across the Borderland are over 50 years old and therefore have the same outdated way of locking. Some of her colleagues said their door malfunctioned when they tried to lock them down.

“There were teachers I knew that were coming up with their own things. They were tying cords around their doors, trying to come up with chains trying to do all of these things,” she explained. 

That’s how she came up with what she described as a cleaner version of alternate locks. 

“We want something that gives us something tangible in our hands to give the best shot that they’re going to make it home to the parents,” she said. 

Different models of Slon lock

The lock, originally known as Door Jam and now Slon, consists of latches that are permanently attached to the door as well as a sling that is placed inside to keep the doors in place.

She has different models for doors that open inward, outward or double doors, and they all work under the same principle. 

The name Slon means elephant, Salcido explained, saying elephants are known to protect their little ones, just like teachers protect their students. 

 “There’s 30 other people in that classroom who haven’t started their lives yet that we desperately want to protect,” she said. 

Now her locks are placed in every classroom in Anthony ISD. Spokesperson for the school district, Adriana Candelaria said they purchased the locks after the tragic school shooting in Uvalde. 

“Now all of our teachers lock their doors during instructional time. Now the door jams become an additional layer of support to have the doors closed,” Candelaria said. 

All teachers, including substitutes, are now trained on how to use the locks and where the sling should be placed for quick access. Without an engineering degree, Salcido sketched her prototype on a piece of paper and then played around with the sizes. She explained she wanted something visual and simple that would show how functional the lock is on the first glance. 

Coming from a long line of teachers, Salcido remembered how her mother would talk about “her kids,” meaning her students. 

“And then I became a teacher and I come home and I tell stories about my kids. And so we’re always talking about our kids as though they’re ours because for those eight hours they are ours,” Salcido said. 

Her goal now is to make the locks part of every classroom across the state and eventually the country. She explained how these locks are not only for the teacher’s peace of mind but also students who get anxious about their safety as well as their parents. 

“My kids being any kid, really, whether they’re in my class, whether they’re in my school, whether they’re in another state, every student and I think this goes for most teachers, if not all – are my kids,” she said. 

Salcido is now in the process of getting her Slon lock patented.