Bostian fifth-graders help teacher who has muscular dystrophy

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 18, 2012

CHINA GROVE — When Amy Monday arrives at school each morning, she doesn’t have to worry about collecting all of her belongings because she knows students Nathaniel Kimball and Robert Barringer are waiting for her.
Monday, a second-grade teacher at Bostian Elementary, has Facioscapulohumeral (FSH) Muscular Dystrophy, a form of muscular dystrophy that causes progressive muscle weakness. The two fifth-graders assist her into the building before school starts.
The muscle disease mostly affects Monday’s legs and shoulders as well as some facial muscles. She uses a motorized wheelchair for long distances but isn’t confined to the chair.
Although Monday was formally diagnosed 11 years ago, she knew something “wasn’t quite right” before then. When she was 13, she had “weak muscles,” Monday said.
A couple of years ago, she began having a lot of falls while in school.
“It got to be too much. I didn’t want to quit because I love teaching,” she said.
She’s been teaching for 12 years now.
Before the school year begins, she always informs her students about her condition.
“I tell them I don’t let it stop me,” she said.
Nathaniel and Robert are determined to help her keep that pledge.
The two students already arrived to school early with their mothers, Christine Barringer and Susan Kimball, who are both teachers.
Christine asked her son Robert, 11, if he’d help his former teacher before school. He didn’t hesitate, and soon Nathaniel, 10, also a former student of Monday’s, volunteered to help as well. The two have been helping Monday since the beginning of the school year.
When Monday arrives at school, the boys unstrap her motorized wheelchair from the back of her van and carry in her bags.
While Nathaniel and Robert wait by a side door for Monday, they greet other teachers entering the building. For Monday, who recently broke her foot and must wear a cast, it’s a greeting she treasures.
“It’s wonderful knowing when I get to school I don’t have to rush and hurry and worry about it. I know they will be there,” Monday said.
“I feel good. I like helping people,” Nathaniel said.
The boys were recently recognized during the Rowan County United Way’s Service Above Self Awards program. The students said they didn’t know they were nominated for the awards.
“It felt good. It makes you feel all warm because you know you help people,” Robert said.
“You feel great,” Nathaniel said.
It means so much to Monday to know the boys could be spending their mornings doing other things but “they choose to help me,” she said.
Monday said the boys are very compassionate, as are all of her students.
Principal Lisa Sigmon agrees.
“It’s amazing we have kids that love to help others,” Sigmon said.
The school regularly recognizes students for kindness through its good citizenship board and various special treats like a movie or popcorn party.
Nathaniel and Robert helping a teacher in this way is a gentlemanly thing to do, Christine Barringer said, and it’s “a way for kids to show some compassion for someone else.”
“I’m very proud of him. I think it’s wonderful, Susan Kimball said of Nathaniel.
Kimball said she emphasizes kindness, helping others and sharing in her home.
“We want that to be an important part of their lives,” she said.
Contact reporter Shavonne Potts at 704-797-4253.