4th Grader in Tears During Class. Confesses to Teacher What's Going on with Mom


In addition to educating the next generation, teachers are expected to have near super-human classroom management skills. As classroom sizes continue to grow and unwanted behaviors have become more common, the job is even more difficult.

Yet the best teachers are able to engage with their pupils, hold their attention, and cultivate their learning at an individual level.

To do this, teachers get very good at noticing their students’ changes in behavior and mood.

Last school year, then fourth grader Troy Volk of Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, was distracted. The mathematics enthusiast missed basic questions and was increasingly tearful.

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Troy’s stand-in teacher, Donna Hoagland was assigned to the class while Tory’s teacher was on maternity leave. Unable to ignore the change, she asked what was going on.

Troy disclosed that his mother was sick and that he wasn’t sure if she was going to be OK. Hoagland requested a conference with Anahita Volk where she learned that Volk was suffering from kidney failure.

The diagnosis came late in the condition’s progression and although she tried to hide the severity of her condition from her children, the reality was hard to miss. Volk spent every night hooked up to a dialysis machine and many mornings vomiting in the background as they got ready for school.

“A lot of days, he looked like the weight of the world was on his shoulders,” Hoagland described Troy. “It breaks your heart,” Volk admitted, “that you’re the one that is supposed to be taking care of them and they’re the ones taking care of you.”

Hoagland was not new to the concept of kidney donation. A high school friend was also sick and Hoagland had considered giving her kidney to them.

But the friend was too sick to be cleared for the transplant surgery. Hoagland then knew that her kidney was destined for Volk.

After spring break in 2017, Hoagland contacted Volk and told her that she would like to be tested as a match. The flabbergasted mother of two had been unable to find a match through family or the database.

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In September, Hoagland called Volk with the great news that they were compatible. “Finding out it was my teacher — shocking. It was shocking. I was blown away,” Troy recalled.

A teacher first, the operation was scheduled during Christmas break to be least disruptive to all parties. The extraction and transplant was a success and Hoagland and the Volks are forever bonded.

Volk’s medical team reports that her one kidney is performing better than many with two kidneys. Volk reported having substantially more energy and feeling much better.

While Volk is immeasurably grateful for the gift of a second chance to see her children grow up, Hoagland isn’t phased by her sacrifice. “Three weeks out of my life to sacrifice, to be a little bit uncomfortable, to help her have a normal, healthy life is nothing to ask,” she said.

What an amazing woman. While many, including myself, may consider donating a kidney to a close relative, giving up a potentially later needed organ to an acquaintance takes a compassion that exceeds normal ability. She may not realize it, but Hoagland is this family’s guardian angel.

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