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Date: 2018-01-09

Newark student follows in footstep of teacher and together they are champions for kids

Stacie Alvarez could see her first-grade student was upset after class at KIPP Thrive Academy in Newark on Friday. Seven-year-old Laila had doubts about her ability to solve an inversion math problem until Alvarez changed her thinking. She kneeled, pulling Laila close, their faces inches apart. Alvarez reassured and comforted the girl to ease the child's anxiety.

"Look at my eyes,'' said Alvarez, telling her student that wrong answers happen sometimes. "You're still smart."

With that, Laila's tears dried. But a visitor watching this unfold in the hallway, just outside the classroom, couldn't contain her own emotions. Charity Haygood, who once taught eighth-grade English to Alvarez at Newark's Bragaw Avenue School, was so proud to see how her former student had touched this young girl's life.

"You're doing it,'' said Haygood, now a principal at Brick Avon Academy in Newark.

The two women sat down moments later in Alvarez's classroom. Her students -- 15 of 29 who made it to school following last week's snowstorm -- had gone to music.

It was "surreal," Alvarez said about her mentor, whom she's known since fourth grade, observing her teach for the first time.

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