KIERA HARVEY ’17: HONORING A PROMISE

After the tragic loss of her son, mother keeps promise to finish school.

By Tina Firesheets

Photo by Carrie Lilly

There were moments when Kiera Harvey didn’t think she could fulfill the promise she’d made to her son.

“I didn’t know if I wanted to finish anything. It all happened so fast,” Harvey says.

On June 12, 2016, her three-year-old son, London, drowned while at the pool with his father last summer. He passed away two days later.

Harvey wasn’t even sure she could return to work at Child Care Network in Greensboro, where she is a teacher. Her son also was in preschool there. Child Care Network director, Nadine Stevenson, didn’t want to lose one of her best teachers.

“There was a time when she told me she wouldn’t come back. I talked with her because Kiera is very good with kids. She has it in her to be a good teacher,” Stevenson says. “I wanted to make sure she kept going. I encouraged her that it was all right to feel a little pain sometimes, but she had to keep on going because she has a gift.”

Harvey, who graduated from Guilford Technical Community College this month with an associate degree in early childhood education, says it was her promise to London that motivated her to continue her studies. She said it wasn’t easy to return to GTCC last fall, just two months after losing her son.

Photo by Carrie Lilly.

“I had different emotions. I just prayed and pushed myself to keep going,” she says. “I had made a promise to him that I would finish school and graduate. I wanted to keep that promise.”

Harvey completed her internship with special needs children at Pilot Elementary in Greensboro. Some people, including her supervising teacher, Rhonda Braswell, worried that being around children might be too painful for her.

“Although my children are older, they function on a younger level. I worried it would remind her of her terrible loss,” Braswell says.

Braswell recalls some difficult days: “But (Kiera) wanted to stick it out, and she just overcame it.”

Braswell saw the same promise emerge that Stevenson had witnessed at Child Care Network. Braswell doesn’t have many student teachers because it takes a special personality to work with her class. They require someone calm, soothing and understanding, she says.

“She was all of those things with them. A lot of people my students don’t take to, and they did take to Kiera right away,” Braswell says.

Harvey’s success with them seemed to boost her confidence.

“You could tell by the way that she interacted with my students that she had a very loving spirit and a very giving heart, and I was just glad to see her get that confidence boost,” Braswell says. “Over time, she grew as an educator. I was glad to see her come out of that shell more and see success.”

Amy Huffman, one of Harvey’s GTCC instructors in the Early Childhood program, says that in time, Harvey seemed more focused.

“She put her head down and got her work done,” Huffman says. “As more time passed, she lifted her head up and she put her face forward and was determined to reach her goal.”

Huffman observed Harvey in the classroom at Pilot, and was impressed.

“I saw a part of her that I didn’t always see in the college classroom. Her interaction with that group of children brought out the best in her,” Huffman says. “I think they gave to her what she lost.”

Harvey says she hopes to one day work with children with special needs for the school system. She credits GTCC for helping her accomplish her goals. The early childhood program drew her because of its reputation. She says the instructors are excellent, both in the classroom and in the field when observing them.

“They’re very helpful, and they want to see you succeed,” Harvey says.

Huffman praises Harvey’s tenacity.

“I applaud her persistence, her perseverance, her ability to take something very hurtful and turn it into good for other children,” she says.

Stevenson is glad to see that Harvey not only stuck with teaching, but that she’s enjoying it again.

“She got stronger. She can come in the door now and grab the kids and have that laughter that she had before,” Stevenson says. “Her laughter came back. Her laughter and her smile. She has a winning smile.”

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May 23, 2017