5 year old Perry Harvey was only with us a short time, but he made a big impact on Mrs. Merritt's kindergarten class. Amber Harvey is Perry's mother, "He was always happy, cheerful, friendly. Loved coming to school. Loved being around other kids."
Perry passed away in November from a disease that made his bones brittle. His foster parents at the Andrew's Center say the few months he had in school with Debby Merritt were some of the the best of his life. Barbara Milliman says "She was willing to really change her entire classroom and her entire curriculum if it meant keeping Perry included so that he didn't feel like an outcast or like he was different."
"When you think of all the qualities you would want a teacher to have for your child Debby is those things" says Principal Eric Daniels. "She is an excellant teacher and extremely humble person. She will be the first person to say she is simply a reflection of those she works with and probably won't appreciate us surprising her."
There wasn't a dry eye when we showed up with Perry's parent's to surprise Mrs. Merritt. She told his mom he's always close in their hearts. "So please know that we have such wonderful memories right a long with you."
People say Debby Merritt gives her love freely to students, their families and her school. She'll tell you it's because she gets so much back from kids like Perry. "Perry was such an important part of our classroom and certainly touched every single little heart that's in our room and will always be in every one of these hearts. What a gift you've given us to be able to have him in our classroom. In such a short time, maybe only 8 weeks or so he taught us so much about life and living life and loving."
Debby M is a News 8 Golden Apple Award winner. You can read the letter we received nominating her below.
Dear Channel 8,
Mrs. Merritt is a fabulous and extraordinary teacher who is willing to go above and beyond for her students. Perryion started kindergarten this past September and was lucky enough to have Mrs. Merritt for his teacher; however luck was not on his side in regards to his medical conditions. Perryion passed away suddenly in late November due to medical conditions that he was battling. It was very sudden and unexpected and a very difficult loss for everyone who knew him.
As anyone can image it can be very scary to start kindergarten. From the first bus ride, first day meeting new friends, and first time being away from caregivers. Mrs. Merritt was willing to do anything needed to make him feel welcomed and be accepted into the classroom.
Since Perryion was a little boy who suffered from a debilitating disease called osteogenesis imperfecto, He had very brittle bones and could not walk. Mrs. Merritt was willing to make any changes and adaptations to the classroom as needed to make it accessible to Perryion. Even though Perryion's life was cut short, he enjoyed the time he spent with his teacher and classmates. We want to thank Mrs. Merritt for being so kind to "our Perryion". She truly is a gift.
This little boy was such an amazing young man and his teacher did extraordinary things for him. She presented his death to his classmates in a very "child friendly way". It can be very difficult and she made it very positive for his fellow classmates. We want her to know how much we appreciate what she did and that Perryion would not have been able to attend school if not for her willingness to help.