AUBURN — A school-wide convocation on friendship was a fitting time to honor a selfless McKenney-Harrison teacher Friday.
Fifth-grader Whisper Palmer of Auburn honored her former teacher Brittany Seltenright for her friendship and altruistic actions toward her and her family while Palmer underwent chemotherapy treatments.
Palmer gave Seltenright a Teacher of the Year Award in honor of her ongoing dedication and support.
In March, Palmer was diagnosed with leukemia, cutting her fourth-grade year short with Seltenright. Her teacher organized multiple fundraisers for Palmer, planned a school-wide blood drive in Palmer’s honor, and provided food and meals for Palmer’s family.
Seltenright also gave emotional support, forging a deep friendship with the family.
“Any time you needed to talk, she was there to listen,” said Gloria Brooks, Palmer’s grandmother.
“She’d talk to me and cry right along with the family,” Brooks added.
Brooks wanted to nominate Seltenright for a regional Teacher of the Year Award, but the process was taking too long, she said. Brooks wanted a more immediate show of appreciation. Palmer’s family talked to the principal at McKenney-Harrison and agreed to surprise Seltenright with a “thank you” at the first convocation of the school year.
At the convocation, Palmer read a letter she wrote to Seltenright: “This year, Mrs. Seltenright has helped me and my family so much and we would all like to thank her and Mrs. Seltenright we love you and you are now a part of our family.”
Since her diagnosis, Palmer has shuffled between her home in Auburn and Indianapolis for treatments at Riley Hospital for Children. Most of her treatments last for one to two weeks and then she returns. While Palmer gets the care she needs, the constant moving has disrupted her normal way of life.
Seltenright has reached out to the family during those hard times and provided words of encouragement, said Tammy Fugate, Palmer’s mother.
“She sends a text each day to see how we are doing,” Fugate said. Brason Stayer, Fugate’s boyfriend, said if the family needed anything, Seltenright was there.
“She did a lot for us,” he said.
Fugate said Palmer’s treatment is progressing well, and things are finally “looking up for the family.” She hopes Palmer can return to school by October.
Seltenright said Palmer’s family is now a part of her own.
“It’s so much more than a student relationship,” she said.
When Seltenright found out Whisper was diagnosed with leukemia, it changed a lot of her views on life.
“She’ll be my family forever,” Seltenright said.
Brooks said she’d call her “an angel.”
Article from The Star Newspaper
Written by Octavia Lehman