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December 15, 2021 Celebrations

Longtime SCCSD Paraeducator Battles Long-Haul COVID-19 Battle with Support from West Middle School

Dee Sturgeon

Dee Sturgeon has been a Special Education Paraeducator at West Middle School for 38 years. Not only has her role given her the opportunity to do what she loves, it’s given her a second family. For that very reason, the staff at West Middle School have always held a special place in Dee’s heart. They are her work family.

Last November, Dee and her mother were diagnosed with COVID-19 on the same day. Ten days later, her mother lost her battle with the virus. While Dee continued to fight the unremitting side effects of COVID-19, the people Dee considered family for so many years checked in on her daily. West Middle School staff brought her supplies, prescriptions, and food, and eventually deemed their support, “deck-dashing.” She thought that was quite clever.

As time passed, Dee found solace in knowing she would be taken care of by staff and even students. In the six months she was unable to work, students sent posters, emailed her, and found countless ways to keep her connected. When she returned to work, the support continued. When West Middle School experienced an unexpected fire alarm, staff even made sure to help Dee evacuate the building quickly with her oxygen tank.

She said, “Everyone at West Middle School is never alone…you see your work family more than your own family. Ultimately, the people at West Middle School have your back. So many people have stepped up to the plate, especially Angela Bemus and Deb Caputo.”

While Dee continues to experience the long-haul effects of COVID-19 more than a year after her initial diagnosis, she keeps persevering by remaining positive. As someone who gives more often than not, the biggest thing Dee has taken away from this experience is having open arms to receive. Dee is grateful for all the support she’s received. Most importantly, Dee said, “I am grateful I get to continue to do the job I love when I feel well enough to do so.”