(DALLASNEWS) — FORT WORTH — Seven educators from across the state began training on Monday to be the first armed school marshals in Texas.

In the class at Tarrant County College’s Northwest Campus, educators from rural districts to urban-area schools will go through 80 hours of training that covers gun use, violence prevention and active-shooter scenarios.

“Everyone here wants to be here because they want to protect and serve children,” program instructor Rafael Perea said. “They are willing to put themselves at risk to protect their students … so we want to make sure they have the best training possible to prepare them.”

The controversial marshal program grew out of stepped-up efforts to improve school security after the deadly Sandy Hook Elementary shootings in 2012. Twenty children and six educators were killed during the rampage in Newtown, Conn.

Schools around the country reacted by revamping security measures that ranged from installing cameras to fortifying entrances to increasing police presence on campus.

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