An elementary school comes together to support a Ukrainian teacher

Mar 29, 2022, 5:25 PM | Updated: Jun 18, 2022, 8:37 pm

WEST JORDAN, Utah— The images and news of what’s happening in Ukraine brings a lot of emotion and heartache for an elementary teacher in West Jordan who is Ukrainian.

Olena Bradford teaches third grade at Riverside Elementary School. But students would never know the pain and heartache she’s experiencing over her concern for her homeland and for those she loves who are still there. Including her brother who is blind and refusing to leave.

“I’m devastated it’s very hard emotionally,” said a teary Bradford to KSL. “He lived for so many years in his own house he has his garden animals. Can you imagine how can I leave [he says].”But despite all of her emotional pain of what’s happening in Ukraine, Bradford says she can’t let that distract her from her teaching duties.

“My students need me. They need a teacher. They need a person who cares about their learning and helping them,” she said.

One of the main reasons why Bradford says she’s strong is because of the incredible love and support she’s getting from fellow teachers and staff at the school.

Which included a surprise event with Ukrainian music, food, colors and flags.

“I just walked in and I see everything and people were dressed Ukrainian colors that day. Really touching, really caring, and I was thinking is it all for just me,” said Bradford.

“She’s one of the bravest people I know. Always thinks about us, about everyone else,” said Kathy Wride, at teacher at the school. “She just needs to feel that we are there for her. It’s as simple as saying I love you and we care about you.”

“She’s an amazing teacher, she puts her students first you almost can’t tell something is going on in her home country,” said Mike Trimmell the principal for Riverside Elementary School. “She exemplifies and exudes resilience and that’s something we are trying to teach our students.”Olena is overwhelmed with the daily love and support.

“They would just say remember you are not alone, all of that helps me to go several hours a day and come the next day and do the best I can as a teacher,” said Bradford.

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An elementary school comes together to support a Ukrainian teacher