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The incredible story of how police and firefighters stepped in as subs after a tragedy.

This is a beautiful example of a community coming together to help each other in times of need.

The incredible story of how police and firefighters stepped in as subs after a tragedy.

In late August 2016, a beloved fifth-grade teacher passed away suddenly in Greenwood, Arkansas.

Jennifer Nelms taught at East Hills Middle School. "She just ... took whatever she was thrown and just spun it positively," Karen Benjamin, a teacher who worked in the same classroom as Nelms, told KFSM Channel 5.

Her coworkers say the young teacher had been diagnosed with lupus a couple of years ago, but her death from complications associated with the disease was unexpected. Benjamin said Nelms went home for the weekend not feeling well, thinking all she needed was a little rest. But she died the following day, leaving behind a husband and two sons.


The entire community came together and wore purple ribbons in her honor. Her fellow teachers were heartbroken, and they wanted to make sure everyone could pay their respects.

But the teachers weren't going to be able to attend the funeral because the district was low on substitute teachers.

That's when the community rallied around them to help.

About 15 police officers and firefighters, including the city's police and fire chiefs, substitute-taught in the teachers’ classrooms that day so everyone could attend Nelms’ funeral.

For Greenwood law enforcement and emergency teams, it was a no-brainer to step in.

Nelms' school recently sent out a big thank-you to the teams, explaining how much the gesture meant to the teachers and the kids:

The staff and administration would like to give a huge thanks to the members of the Greenwood Police Department,...

Posted by East Hills Middle School on Wednesday, August 24, 2016

The entire post reads:

"The staff and administration would like to give a huge thanks to the members of the Greenwood Police Department, Greenwood Fire Department, and East Hills PTO for all your support today covering classes and supervising our students during lunch and recess. Special thanks to the PTO for providing lunch to our staff, law enforcement officers, and firemen. We are blessed to have such an awesome and supportive community!"

This is a beautiful example of a community stepping up to help each other in times of need.

“Ms. Nelms was a supporter of the fire and police department,” Greenwood Fire Chief Stewart Bryan told KFSM Channel 5. “She's been a supporter of us for many years. Now that the school's in need, we wanted to help the school out. We wanted to make sure all the teachers were available to attend the funeral.”

Greenwood Police Chief William Dawson said it was an honor to be in a classroom that Nelms taught in. "She was a great person. Obviously loved by a lot of people and the students ... she's gonna be greatly missed."

Officers and students on the playground. Photo by East Hills Middle School/Facebook.

A tragic death like this is always hard to process, but often the best way to move forward is to allow everyone to come together and grieve. Sometimes all it takes is a little cross-community support to give people hope.

Simon & Garfunkel's song "Bridge Over Troubled Water" has been covered by more than 50 different musical artists, from Aretha Franklin to Elvis Presley to Willie Nelson. It's a timeless classic that taps into the universal struggle of feeling down and the comfort of having someone to lift us up. It's beloved for its soothing melody and cathartic lyrics, and after a year of pandemic challenges, it's perhaps more poignant now than ever.

A few years a go, American singer-songwriter Yebba Smith shared a solo a capella version of a part of "Bridge Over Troubled Water," in which she just casually sits and sings it on a bed. It's an impressive rendition on its own, highlighting Yebba's soulful, effortless voice.

But British singer Jacob Collier recently added his own layered harmony tracks to it, taking the performance to a whole other level.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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