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A mom’s hug changes Powell Elementary student’s daily routine

Powell Elementary School’s morning routine has changed a second grader’s perspective about tackling the school day.
Published: Oct. 27, 2020 at 7:09 PM EDT
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POWELL, Tenn. (WVLT) - Powell Elementary School’s morning routine has changed a second grader’s perspective about tackling the school day.

While participating in class, some might not see Kahleah Clifton has dealt with change and grief.

She started her school year at Powell Elementary different than other kids.

“It was tough," said Kahleah Clifton.

Kahleah’s mom died in August from colon cancer. They lived in California so Kahleah had to move across the country to be with her dad.

“She was having some issues that would be hard for any adult, much less a child," said Martha Raby, the school secretary.

When Kahleah got to school, Raby was one of the first faces she saw.

“She would come in crying each morning and dad would tear up and she would tear up and we would all tear up and so I said just let her hang out with me for a little while," explained Raby.

Hugs from Raby made all the difference.

“It makes me smile," said Kahleah.

A simple smile, hug and walk to class has lifted her spirits.

“It makes us feel so good when we can just start their day off a little bit better," said Raby.

“There has been such a dramatic change from a seven-year-old that just lost their mom, but for them to take the time to do this for Kahleah or any child, was huge to me," said Joe Clifton, Kahleah’s dad.

He said “thank you” cannot express his gratitude enough for all the staff at Powell Elementary.

“Kahleah, now I drop her off I’m trying to say I love you she’s like bye! She’s like shzoom," exclaimed Clifton.

“We’re here to provide a safe environment for them and to make them feel loved and to make them feel safe," said Raby.

Principal Denise High said the school runs on relationships.

“It’s business as usual for us, but for her, it is extraordinary for her," said High.

Kahleah’s felt stronger than before.

“It was tough, but now it’s not," said Kahleah Clifton.

She’s looking forward to making more friends to feel more at home in the weeks to come.

Her school counselor also gives her family grief counseling books and resources.

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