Susan Burke is accused of choking and punching her first-grade students at Greencastle Elementary School in Silver Spring. (Montgomery County police/AP)

Susan Lee Burke, 36, of Laurel is on trial in Montgomery County Circuit Court on second-degree assault charges for allegedly assaulting her 6- and 7-year-old students.

She is accused of assaulting half of the children in her class of 16 students at Greencastle Elementary School in Silver Spring.

Burke’s trial started this week and she began her testimony on Wednesday, the Washington Examiner reported.

According to the Examiner, prosecutors said Burke grabbed the necks of students in her class during the 2010-2011 school year. Several students also testified this week that Burke would choke or hit them when she got angry.

But Burke testified Wednesday that she did not use force to discipline her students, the Examiner reported. She said she relied on verbal warnings, or a light tap on the back if a student spoke during an exam so she wouldn’t have to speak and disrupt the test as well.

“It’s enough that I get their attention,” Burke said.

Burke was placed on administrative leave in January and charged with several counts of assault in February after school officials learned of the allegations stemming from an incident December 2010.

Burke is expected to continue her testimony Thursday morning.

Read the Washington Examiner for the full report.

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