Students team up to support Isyss

Published 12:31 am Saturday, March 4, 2017

Fourth-grader undergoing treatment in Birmingham

Two Andalusia Elementary School fourth grade classes have formed a team to help support a classmate recently diagnosed with a brain tumor.

Isyss Couch is currently receiving treatment for a brain tumor at The Children’s Hospital in Birmingham. Her teachers, Heather Bailey and Susan Chandler, and classmates have formed Team Isyss.

Isyss was diagnosed with the tumor in January. And despite having spent lots of time in Birmingham since then, she has been in almost constant communication with her friends.

“Almost daily, the kids ask, ‘Can we skype Isyss?’ ” Bailey said. “They are fully aware of her absence.”

The teachers, who team teach, said that their students have written letters and sent care packages. There was a school-wide effort to send her valentines. Several have even been to Birmingham to visit her, Chandler said.

Cade Cassady said, “We put lots of cards, some toys, a blanket, Shopkins, coloring books, stickers and games in the package.”

He also added, “Isyss is very nice. She is very kind.”

“We hope she feels better,” Bryce Jernigan said.

“I hope she gets better and can come back to school,” Graycie Sansom said. “She loves to play with everybody.”

The teachers said Isyss is indeed friends with all of her classmates. If they ask her mom which of the class members Isyss might like to speak with, her mom says, “Any of them. She loves them all.”

Kenley Sims, who is both Isyss’s cousin and classmate, said Isyss is very brave.

“We went to the fair,” she said. “On the roller coaster, I was crying for my mama, but she wasn’t scared.”

Bailey said, “The students will come up and hand me a folded envelope and ask me to send it, because they know I am sending things. They’ve also asked if they can have a party when she comes back.”

Another classmate, Gracyn Martin, plans to dedicate a song to Isyss in the school talent show. Isyss and Gracyn were softball teammates.

Between the two of them, Bailey and Chandler have 19 years of teaching experience. Neither has had a seriously ill student in her class before. At first, they struggled with how to explain Issys’s absence. They considered just telling her classmates that Isyss was sick.

“Then we realized we needed to teach compassion,” Chandler said. “This is life.”

In the coming weeks, the students will be selling bracelets in their classmate’s honor with proceeds going to her family.

The classes also have a Facebook page, Team Isyss.