OCEANSIDE, Calif. — An Oceanside elementary school teacher who went beyond the call of duty had no idea what was waiting behind her.
In this Zevely Zone, I visited Empresa Elementary for the big reveal. We attended a school assembly that ended with a big surprise behind a curtain. For an hour, students enjoyed a lesson about the importance of water.
"We have one more surprise," said Principal Kim Hollowell. She asked the kids to turn around. "How many of you know who I am?" asked Carly Harris from the Helpful San Diego Honda Dealers.
Carly had a favor ask. "I need you to help me find something, so let's get our binoculars out. Can you do that? I need your help finding Mrs. Boka. Where is she? Oh, she is right here," said Carly. "The San Diego Honda Dealers are thrilled to announce you as one of our deserving winners of $5,000 in school supplies."
Behind the curtain, piles of school supplies and a 75-inch teaching screen were waiting. Mrs. Boka was nominated for the San Diego Honda Dealers Teacher Appreciation Award for taking special care of her second-grade student Quincy Bergdahl.
"She helped me when I was homeschooled," said the 7-year-old. Quincy's been battling leukemia and instead of him falling behind in school, Mrs. Boka, after teaching a full day in her classroom, went to Quincy's home to keep him caught up. "I just couldn't say no," said Mrs. Boka.
While Quincy fought off cancer and received a bone marrow transfer from his brother Reece, Mrs. Boka delivered lessons in math, reading, and compassion.
"What started out as something I thought was going to be really hard actually turned out to be really joyful and it brought back more than what I gave, he's a pretty cool kid," said Mrs. Boka.
"She is the best teacher I have ever had," said Quincy. His parents Andrew and Theresa agree. "She changed our lives. She changed Quincy's life for sure," said Theresa. "She became part of the family for sure. She was so dedicated to Quincy, she was just a bright light for his recovery," said Andrew.
Mrs. Boka was given an interactive intelligent Professional Teaching Screen (called the Promethean ActivPanel 75” worth $3,500!). She also received classroom supplies including Shine-A-Light Books, a Rainbow Seating Rug, Felt Pens, Paint Sticks, Washable Markers and Organizers.
Mrs. Boka also was given a $400 Amazon Gift Card and to top it off we told her she'd be on television. "What? Oh my gosh," she exclaimed.
We are happy to report that 7-year-old Quincy Bergdahl is back at school and cancer free.