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Dedicated teacher visits her student battling cancer at home every day to help with lessons

Barbara Heim of Conneaut Valley Elementary School is going the extra mile to help her student, second-grader Harrison Conner, who was diagnosed with leukemia last year.

Dedicated teacher visits her student battling cancer at home every day to help with lessons
Image Source: Getty Images/Vesnaandjic/Representative

A teacher's dedication to ensuring no student fall behind is winning hearts. Barbara Heim of Conneaut Valley Elementary School is dedicated to her job as an educator and has been making sure her student, diagnosed with leukemia last year, does not miss out on her classes. The Pennsylvania school has started in-person classes again but Harrison Conner is not in a condition to go back. The second-grader is still in remote learning. Most of the credit for his continued quality education goes to his teacher, who has been going all the way to his house to deliver lessons every day.



Heim drives for 20 minutes after her work at school to Conner's house. She then takes him through the day's lessons in his home. Both of them wear masks and for additional protection, Heim even wears a face shield and a plexiglass screen separate them as well. Classes with his teacher every day help lift Conner's spirits after the grueling treatment he has to go through. "It was a joy because I knew he wanted to learn," Heim told TODAY. "He couldn't wait. He was so excited. And he'd have his off days if medicine was causing him to not feel up to it. It wasn't the best day for him, but we made it through. And he always did his best."





The two share a special bond since Heim was one of the first people to help Conner with his diagnosis. The attentive teacher noticed something was off about her student at the end of 2019. Even as other kids would run around playing, Conner would turn pale and needed to sit down. The school nurse let the little boy's mother know about this just before the school shut for Christmas break. Conner was diagnosed soon after and Heim found out about his leukemia once school reopened. His classmates felt his presence in the classroom too. Much before the pandemic forced school onto Zoom, Conner's classmates already used it to keep in touch with him.



Heim and her class would take time after recess to call Conner to say hello. She would read a story for them as well. But when the pandemic came, everyone was confined to their homes, further isolating Conner from his classmates. So Heim decided to go the extra mile to help her student and keep him up to date with the lessons. "It goes far beyond her just coming here for school," Conner's mom, Suzanne said. "Ever since the minute he was diagnosed ... she has been absolutely amazing. She has kept Harrison such a part of the kids' lives in school and making sure that he feels remembered."



She went on to say that Heim has been more than a teacher to Conner. When she comes home every day it feels less like a teacher coming to teach her son and more like an aunt coming home to hang out with him. "She brings goodies, and she is always bringing a smile," Suzzanne added. "My kids will meet her at the front door with all the latest news and it's incredibly, incredibly, special." Heim on the other hand believes she is the lucky one, to be able to teach Conner. "Oh, he's an amazing little guy," she said. "He is so much fun in class. You could have 100 of him in a classroom, and you would still take more because he has that sense about him. He wants to learn. He loves to learn new things."

Currently, Conner is in remission and is doing pretty well. But he still has a long way to go before things can go back to normal. He still has a year and a half of treatment left. Recently, there was a COVID-19 scare in the Conner household that has put visits from Heim on hold for the time being. She says not a day goes by without thinking about her favorite student.


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