A first-grade teacher is being applauded all over the world after she went the extra mile to solace her 7-year-old student who was having a tough time.
In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, North Bay Haven Charter Academy started conducting online classes to continue their study program.
Besides taking her usual classes, Katherine “Katie” Ricca launched a regular storytime session on Zoom to engage her pupils in a good activity amid the lockdown.
“I was planning on doing this twice a week until they begged for me to meet each night,” Ricca told PEOPLE.
“My class was very social so it was great for them to be able to see their friends each day. They would talk about their day before I read.”
Ricca was quite successful in lifting the spirits of her students through the remote sessions.
But on April 2, she noticed that one of her usually ‘cheerful’ students, Hannah, was disturbed and sad. “Hannah was especially quiet,” said the 29-year-old.
“This was very unusual for her. … She put her head down so we couldn’t see her face. I called her name and she didn’t respond. I could tell something was bothering her.”
Her doubt was confirmed when the 7-year-old signed off from Zoom before the session had ended.
It was when the teacher texted Hannah’s mum to see if everything was alright.
Hannah’s mom Kelley Close said that receiving a message from Ricca was a normal routine for all of the parents. “It was just Katie being Katie,” she said.
“She’s always checking on her students.”
The thing that made Ricca distinguished from all the teachers out there was what she did afterward.
Ricca, a mum-of-five, told Kelley: “Hearing that Hannah was sad, I was heartbroken. … I just wanted to see her and talk about what’s going on.
“Having kids at home, I see how it’s affecting them, so I understood how she felt.”
Ricca told Kelley that she wanted to come to their driveway and sit with Hannah for some time. Kelley recalled: “She said, ‘Since I’m a teacher, I consider this essential.’ That one sentence made me tear up.
“She’s got a husband and five kids at home, and she still considers my daughter’s well-being essential.”
Ricca further told her: “Zoom is great, but I didn’t think it would be the same. I’ve spent the school year with Hannah and know her heart. Being there in person means more.”
The next day, Ricca was there to surprise the little girl.
“She just looked at me with disbelief, like she couldn’t believe I was there,” Ricca said as she talked with the 7-year-old while sitting 6-feet away from her.
Ricca continued: “At first, I asked how she was doing and she said, ‘Happy,’ but she later told me that she was feeling sad.
“I told her that I’m sad too. We talked a little about how feelings are important and that it’s okay to feel sad. I told her some things that make me feel better and reminded her I’m always here if she needs me.”
Ricca then read ‘silly books’ to Hannah and kept chatting with her until she was cheered up. The heart-warming moment was shared on Facebook where it received thousands of reactions and shares.
Kelley who was grateful for Ricca’s lovely gesture said: “It shows me that our teachers really do care about our kids.
“It reminds me that it takes a village to raise children and our teachers are a vital part of our village.”
She added: “This whole season is hard and frustrating and scary, but as long as we take the time to look after one another, we’ll get through it.
“If something’s wrong, say so. If you see someone struggling, reach out. Take care of each other.”
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