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Heidi Bird – Adams Elementary

Last October, my son’s teacher Ms. Bird talked to me about Lota being tired in class and how he was complaining about not seeing the smart board that well. As a Mom, I was starting to have “that Mom feeling” that something was not right with Lota, and after speaking with Ms. Bird a few times, I knew I had to take this seriously. An eye exam would later show that both of Lota’s optic nerves were severely swollen. In a matter of hours we were informed Lota had a brain tumor. Ms. Bird’s concern added that extra push for me to start acting on that “Mother intuition”. Everything went well with Lota’s first two brain surgeries last year and Lota was back to school in no time, excited to tell Ms. Bird about everything. Lota did not like missing school. He would always say, “Mom I need to go to school to tell my teacher about this”. So during recovery we would take Lota to school to say hi to Ms. Bird and tell her everything. Lota seemed so relaxed and comfortable around Ms. Bird. This past February, MRI showed that the tumor had returned aggressively. Lota underwent a major brain surgery April 1st. It was a tough one and Lota was having a hard time bouncing back. He did not want to talk or open his eyes for almost 3 days after surgery. During that time, Ms. Bird was away visiting family. She kept in contact with me about Lota through Facebook. When she landed at the airport, she made it a priority to stop by the hospital to see Lota. She looked tired but she made sure Lota knew she cared about him so much. She will never know how much that visit meant to us. Lota was so happy to see his teacher. Watching him smile from ear to ear that day, gave me an assuring feeling that my boy will be okay. Ms. Bird took videos of Lota to share with everyone at school. A couple days later she returned to the hospital with a big poster for Lota, made by his classmates; cards and letters from students, faculty and staff at school, video message from Lota’s classmates (that put the biggest smile on his face) and she also made a chart for Lota titled “Lota’s Race to Recovery” for Lota to stick a running man every time he finished a speech, physical & occupational therapy session. This chart meant a lot because Lota loves to run and because he wasn’t able to run, he can pretend to be the running guy on his chart. And once Lota reaches a flag, he gets a reward from Ms. Bird. This was a great relief for me since I was having a hard time trying to find ways to bring running to Lota in his hospital room. As Lota’s Dad and I were running back and forth between the hospital and home trying to care for Lota and also our other 5 kids, Ms. Bird made sure that Lota’s 504 educational plan was setup so she can come to the house to teach Lota anything that he was missing at school. It was a big help for me. Ms. Bird did not stop there. She made sure that everyone at school can get a card to Lota. A letter box was setup in the office and Ms. Bird made sure to deliver those letters to Lota every two days. A few weeks ago Lota ran his school’s 5k Fun Run. As he crossed the finish line, Ms. Bird was right there to catch him. She held him for a few moments, as I walked up to Lota. Lota reached for me and asked for drink. A few minutes later, he asked to go tell Ms. Bird that he finished the race. I told him Ms. Bird was right there when he crossed the finish line and she held him for a few minutes. Lota’s eyes lit up and he smiled. At that moment I knew, Lota knew that Ms. Bird really cared for him. He was not just a student in her class; he was truly loved by his teacher. I will always treasure that moment forever. Ms. Bird is a teacher you should honor. Please recognize her for her love for teaching and for the children she teaches and has taught. I know I am not the only parent that has seen how great she is. Thank you.

–Rowena Ward