Mayor Lou Manzo recognizes Teacher Appreciation Week

Pleasant Valley School teacher saves child's life with Heimlich maneuver

Harrison Township Mayor Lou Manzo focuses on Pleasant Valley School teacher Stacie Brown in this week’s message.

A message from Mayor Lou Manzo:

Last week, the nation celebrated Teacher Appreciation Week. This is an American tradition that officially dates back to the 1950’s, when Eleanor Roosevelt convinced Congress to proclaim the first Teacher Appreciation Day on March 7, 1953. By the 1980’s, the National Education Association had gotten behind the initiative and it evolved into a weeklong recognition (the first week of May) in 1984.

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This final stage of a long school year is a great time to celebrate teachers as they have built solid relationships with their students by this time. In many cases, these bonds last a lifetime.

We are specially blessed in Harrison Township with a superior public school system, which is clearly rooted in an excellent roster of educators. Perhaps now more than ever, we all recognize and appreciate teachers and the impact they have in shaping our children’s lives.

Though there are always many examples of individual excellence, I want to share an extraordinary classroom story that occurred here during Teacher Appreciation Week, last week. Ironically, it was also state testing week, which is not exactly a treat for the teachers or the students. There are strict timelines and rules, which include allowing students to have access to mints during the testing process.

In this particular fourth grade class at Pleasant Valley School, a student was enjoying sucking on a mint when it became lodged in his throat, completely blocking his airway. The distressed young man approached his teacher, clearly choking, and without hesitation, his teacher grabbed him from behind and performed the Heimlich maneuver, multiple times, until he coughed up the mint.

It chills me just writing an account of this story and I cannot imagine experiencing it firsthand. In addition to her normal and expected role in shaping her students’ lives, this fourth grade teacher physically saved that young man’s life at that moment. Incredible! This hero teacher’s name is Stacie Brown and she has been a dedicated and respected member of the Harrison School District teaching crew for 21 years.

Today, as you read this, pause to recognize Stacie’s quick thinking and action that averted a potential tragedy.

Please join me in thanking all teachers, everywhere, but especially in our community for the role they play in our children’s lives. Here is wishing you a smooth and enjoyable end to another school year.

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