MUSKEGON HEIGHTS, Mich. — A Michigan woman is grateful for her granddaughter’s teacher after the educator noticed something was wrong during a phone call regarding school equipment.
Julia Koch was conducting virtual learning lessons for her first grade students on Sept. 22 when she received a phone call from a student’s grandmother.
The student’s school-provided tablet wouldn’t charge correctly, but Koch recognized a bigger issue.
“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 WOOD-TV.
The teacher said the grandparent’s speech was slurred, and her words were so jumbled she couldn’t understand what the woman was trying to say.
The child’s grandmother, Cynthia Phillips, was having a stroke.
Although Koch didn’t know that at the time, she reached out to the school principal, Charlie Lovelady.
While Koch resumed lessons, Lovelady called Phillips to check on her himself.
“I noticed her speech was impaired, and I asked her if she was all right, and she was stumbling over her words, and it was getting worse by the minute,” Lovelady told CNN. “I knew the symptoms of a stroke because I lost my father from a stroke, so I told her hold on and immediately got her help.”
Lovelady told a staff member to call 911 and request emergency responders. He also sent two staff members to Phillips' home to check on her and the children in the household.
Personnel who arrived at the student’s house took Phillips to a hospital.
She credits the school staff with saving her life.
“I would have died if it weren’t for the teacher being so quick and fast about getting me help,” Phillips told CNN while she received treatment at the hospital. “It made me so close to the staff and the principal, even the secretary who hurried to get me on the phone with the principal. They showed up at my house to make sure I’m OK. I thank God I didn’t die in front of [the] kids.”
Muskegon Heights Public School Academy System Superintendent Rané Garcia said she is proud of Koch and Lovelady for their intentional care and action.
“Their quick actions and the energy they have poured into relationships with students and families during this new way of education are making a significant positive difference in the lives of our students and their families,” she said.