GARLAND, Texas — For any student at Naaman Forest High School in Garland, having one year of perfect attendance is a remarkable achievement.
But teachers here say what one senior has accomplished borders on the miraculous.
“I know it’s true, but it’s hard to believe. It’s really hard to believe,” said teacher Karen Stanton.
No one at Naaman Forest has had a longer run of perfect attendance than a beloved senior citizen.
Starting when she was hired, 85-year-old health sciences teacher Sharon Bradley has never missed school.
“It’s boring at home,” Bradley said. “There are floors to mop and I hate dusting. It’s more fun to be here.”
Before teaching, Bradley spent 40 years as a nurse and even worked at Parkland Hospital the day JFK was shot.
She didn’t start teaching until she was 59.
Now, 26 years later, she hasn’t missed a day.
Perhaps most remarkable, though, are all the times she should have.
Two years ago, when Bradley was evacuated from her home after a gas explosion in Dallas, she was afraid she’d miss school, so she rented a hotel room across the street.
Two months ago, when the Dallas tornado put a tree on top of her house, she still showed up to work.
And when her husband died earlier this year, after 61 years of marriage, she didn’t miss a single day of school.
She doesn’t hesitate when explaining why school means that much.
“I don’t want to abandon my students and you never know what you’re missing every day,” she said.
“Maybe there’s a student that just needs to talk to you. Maybe there’s a co-worker that just needs encouragement and you’ve got an opportunity every single day. And if you don’t come to school you miss that opportunity," Bradley said.
To say thank you, the school surprised Bradley with a birthday party.
She was greeted with friends and family, words of encouragement and of course, cake.
Although, leave it to Mrs. Bradley to serve others first, which she did.
Some people have wondered how long she’ll keep doing this, but she says she’s not going anywhere until her students have at least attempted to revive her.
“If I drop dead at the whiteboard, they get to practice CPR,” she said. “Wouldn’t that be terrific?!”
Thankfully, with a heart like hers that won’t be for a very, very long time.