The era of remote learning has come with its fair share of challenges. If getting kids to sit and focus on a screen for a day’s worth of lessons isn’t enough, lack of resources and technical problems throw a whole new mess of complications in the mix. As with most of life’s challenges, there is a silver lining. Sometimes remote learning comes with unexpected surprises – special guests, exciting activities, and in the case of one Muskegon Heights elementary school teacher, the ability to save a life.
While teaching her first-graders remotely on September 22, Julia Koch noticed one of her students having technical difficulties. Since students need their devices throughout the school day, it’s important that they charge them regularly. One student, however, explained that her device wouldn’t charge.
Rather than talking a first grader through tech support, Koch asked to speak to the student’s grandma, Cynthia Phillips. Interacting with students’ guardians happens nearly every day, especially when kids are learning from home – but unlike most teacher-guardian interactions, this one was life-saving.
As soon as Phillips started to speak, alarm bells went off in the perceptive teacher’s head.
“When she started speaking, I could tell that there was something wrong. I wasn’t sure what was wrong, but there was something wrong,” Koch told WREG.
Though Koch didn’t know exactly what to tell administrators, she contacted them immediately. She knew the woman needed help, and she knew the administration could quickly locate the students’ home address.
“I need someone at that residence ASAP, please,” a school staffer said to the 911 operator.
Koch’s instincts told her something was very wrong, and she was absolutely right. Phillips was having a stroke. Thanks to this teacher’s quick response, Phillips was rushed to the hospital where she remained for several days. Though recovery is a long and arduous process, the life-saving intervention came quickly enough to mitigate the damage.
As soon as she was well enough to do so, Phillips expressed her immense gratitude to Koch and the school’s staff. “Thank you for saving my life,” Phillips said. “If it wasn’t for them getting me the help, I needed I would’ve just not been here.”