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Categorized | Featured, News

Cedar View student pays it forward


By Judy Reed

Jaiden Thompson and ASD teacher Emily Strunk. Courtesy photo.

A Cedar View Elementary student with a big heart gave a teacher there a Christmas present that she will never forget. 

Teacher Emily Strunk teaches in the regional Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) classroom at Cedar View. Jaiden Thompson, 11, is a fifth-grader in Miss Tanner’s class who volunteers in the ASD classroom, and decided she wanted to do something special for Strunk and the class. So with the help of her parents, Chris and Melissa Thompson, of Solon Township, Jaiden started a fundraiser to help Strunk buy supplies for the classroom.

 “I work in the classroom, and see how hard she works, and I’ve made lots of friends, so thought this gave me an opportunity to give back,” explained Jaiden.

Jaiden spoke with her parents about how she wanted to do something, and ultimately she decided on a fundraiser, which they posted on Facebook. “The goal was $100, and we reached that in the first hour,” explained Jaiden’s mom, Melissa. “So we kept it going about a month.” They eventually raised $725, which they spent on gift cards for Strunk. But the teacher was unaware it was happening.

“This year I took a leap, a big one,” Strunk said about teaching in the ASD room. “It has been emotional. I have laughed, cried, and learned a lot.” She said that on the day she found out about the gift (December 19), it was no different. She was dealing with a tough issue and her principal came and got her and said, “We need you.”

“Usually, this is never good,” said Strunk. “I walked into Miss Tanner’s room, and everyone was quiet. I was so confused. Then a fifth grade student (Jaiden) read me a letter. Her letter said that this year she wanted to do something special for such a special class of friends so she raised $725 for my classroom! I was blown away. Not only did she raise a ton of money but knowing that my kids have a whole classroom and community of people that care about them is the best feeling ever,” she remarked.

Strunk called it one of the most memorable moments of her teaching career. 

“She had no idea,” recalled Jaiden. “She cried a little bit. She was very surprised.”

It makes Jaiden feel good, too, to know she’s done something to help others. “The day I gave it to her I felt really happy inside. I would definitely do it again,” she said.

Jaiden’s parents are proud of her, but also aren’t surprised. “Chris and I are both very proud of her,” explained Melissa, “but giving isn’t something new to her. Two to three times a year we go through our closets and donate to Women at Risk. In Girl Scouts, she always wants to be a good Girl Scout. She’s always doing something for others.”

“It is our sincerest hope that Jaiden’s hard work will inspire others to do the same for others,” added Jaiden’s dad, Chris.

For Strunk, Jaiden’s generosity just proves something she already knows. “If you ever doubt humanity you should come spend a few minutes in our school,” she remarked. “Our students will show you empathy, acceptance, compassion, friendship and so much more; we will restore your faith.”

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