Students fundraise for eye surgery from central Texas art teacher

WEST, Texas (KWTX) – A group of students from West are raising money for eye surgery from their art teacher.

“She’s always talking about how hard it is for her to see so I knew we had to do something,” said Wyatt Sexton, a freshman at West High School.

Sexton is one of a group of first graders who are raising money for substitute teacher Stephanie Bearden.

“I have cataracts,” Bearden said. “I adapt and change the way I do things, I moved children’s works away from me to see them better, I didn’t know how bad it was going to get.”

Bearden, a retired art teacher at Waco ISD, has been a replacement at West ISD for two years.

In September, she began to teach more regularly in the art department after the teacher’s dismissal.

“Principal Klander asked me to take it on a more permanent basis,” Bearden said.

Bearden said she took the job, not just for the fun of teaching, but because she needed money for eye surgery.

She says they started off badly.

“At first they rebelled,” Bearden said. “They weren’t used to someone who taught art and had discipline.”

However, she stayed with her and said the students started to come.

“I would teach them something about art, then I would teach them life skills,” she said.

The students overheard her talking about the cost of her eye surgery because insurance doesn’t cover it: she had to take out a loan, and later learned of additional expenses she hadn’t planned.

“It made us feel really bad for her and we wanted to help her in the best possible way, so we thought of a GoFundMe so the whole community could help, not just us,” said Gage Kirkpatrick.

The students set up a GoFundMe page in Bearden’s honor, hoping to raise $ 5,000 to cover his surgery costs.

“She’s different from all the other teachers, she shows us things that will help us,” said Aydan York, freshman at West HS. “She shows us that if we give her respect, she gives us respect.”

The first $ 450 came from the pockets of the students.

“It took us a minute to get used to her, but now we’re a lot closer to her and she’s done so much for us and it just means the world for us to have her here,” Kirkpatrick said. “This class couldn’t be anything because we lost our other teacher, and it wasn’t so much an art class to come here and mess around, and now we take things seriously, we actually learn things.” , and we’re not just learning the art here.

Bearden says she teaches them responsibility, taking care of their spaces and supplies, and responsibility.

“I want to teach them art and life, and art is a reflection of life, that’s something that is the goal of every art teacher, but I also want to teach them what they are now counting, ”said Bearden.

She also wants them to know they matter.

“Their lives matter and they can do ANYTHING! ” she said. “I feel like I’m here because God wanted me to be here to touch the lives of these children and show them that they CAN do something.”

She says she was speechless when she heard about the GoFundMe page.

“I just couldn’t believe they would do this for me,” Bearden said. “It is so wonderful.”

ISD West Superintendent David Truitt said he couldn’t be prouder.

“For a replacement to have an impact like this where the kids are looking for ways to help her, come back and give her back for everything she does for them, is truly unique,” ​​said Truitt. “As you talk about giving your time and energy to others and serving, you’re hoping that this sets in and the seed is germinating… their GoFundMe account and the way they try to help it is very special. “

For more information on how to donate, click here.

Bearden is scheduled to have eye surgery on December 13.

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