‘She Became Ours': How Three Frisco Teachers Answered a Virginia Teen's Cry for Help

UPDATED at 1:30 p.m. April 8: This story was originally published Feb. 14. We're bringing it back because Kim Frankson, Laurie Ortel and Jess Johnson will be honored with an award from the makers of the STOPit mobile app at a Frisco ISD board meeting this evening. It is the first time the company has given the Helping Hands Life Saver Award.FRISCO — The teenager’s first message arrived late-morning the Thursday before winter break.At Frisco ISD’s Ashley Elementary School, assistant principal Jess Johnson and counselor Laurie Ortel were in principal Kim Frankson’s office for a weekly meeting when Frankson's phone lit up with a new notification.Since the beginning of the school year when the district launched STOPit, an app that allows students and parents to send anonymous reports of bullying or school threats, administrators at Ashley Elementary had not received any notifications.Now, Frankson was reading a lengthy report aloud as Johnson followed along on her own phone.It was from a student who had been bullied. She gave her name. The teenager threatened to kill herself, and even gave a date for when she planned to do it.Right away, the trio knew something wasn’t right. They know every child at Ashley Elementary, and this was not one of their students, nor were any of the bullies named in the message.Frankson went to her computer to look up the students enrolled at other Frisco campuses. No results.“Hi, we’re very concerned about you and want to help,” Johnson typed in the app. “Can you tell me your name and what school do you go to?”The teenager responded immediately. Frankson searched the name of the school on Google and found a result in Waynesboro, Va., about a half-hour west of Charlottesville.“Is that in Texas?” Johnson asked. No.“Okay, are you at school today?” No.Almost 1,200 miles away, a student was in need. Frankson, Johnson and Ortel pushed everything else aside to help her."We didn't know her," Ortel said this week, "but in that moment, she became ours."■ ■ ■When students or parents first log on to STOPit, they must enter an access code unique to their school. Every week, Frankson sends the code for Ashley Elementary to parents in a weekly email newsletter.Makers of the app and Frisco ISD officials are unsure how the student in Virginia managed to message the Ashley Elementary administrators. Maybe she mistyped her own school’s code. Maybe she has some unknown connection to Frisco and was able to learn the school’s code. Frisco ISD officials declined to release the girl's name due to privacy concerns.  Continue reading...

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