If there’s one thing school teachers anticipate each day, it’s to expect the unexpected.
Kim Frankson, Jess Johnson and Laurie Ortel work at Ashley Elementary in Frisco.
They’ve perfected the art of multi-tasking but a single text message in December brought it all to a stop.
The message came from an app called “Stop It”, which allows students to report bullying anonymously.
“She was telling me about a situation that was happening with her and some other girls at the school and how it was making her feel,” Johnson, the assistant principal explained.
The student said she was considering killing herself.
“There was no doubt this was a serious situation,” said Ortel, a school counselor.
With the clock ticking, they didn’t have much to go on. They didn’t recognize the student’s name and after a search of a district database, they learned she was a student in Frisco either.
They ask the student, ‘What school do you go to?’
When she responds, they ask, ‘Is that in Texas?’
Far from it, they found out.
She was a teenager in Waynesboro, Virginia, a 17-hour drive away.
“I don’t really know if you can describe that feeling. It is something that’s very surreal. The urgency to help this child that you don’t know, that you know she needs help now,” said Frankson, the school principal.
Forty-five minutes into the conversation, the student reveals she’s taken pills and was becoming slow to respond.
“At that point, I was really nervous,” Johnson said.
By then, Waynesboro police were on their way.
“I’m just thankful that she opened the door,” said Officer Alison Willis.
Officer Willis said the teen was alert, distressed and home alone.
They went to the hospital. The student is okay.
“I feel like I did my job. That’s what I’m here to do,” said Officer Willis.
“I think we all just looked at each other and it was like we could take a deep breath that we had helped this girl,” Johnson said.
“Every single thing, every single action, every single word that kids say to each other, it’s so important to be kind,” said Ortel.
The entire incident lasted less than an hour.
It’s not clear why the app message went to Frisco and not the girl’s school.