After losing her mother in bombing, Jessica Foley became a teacher to be the healing voice she needed as a child

Great State

MOORE, Okla. (KFOR) — Teaching remotely is something second year teacher Jessica Foley has to do right now, but it’s hardly ideal.

“I miss everything about it,” she says about her normal classroom routine. “You really do have 28 children. They’re my kids when they’re with me.”

She’s just finishing up with lessons and parent phone calls from her laptop computer as I arrive.

This evening, she’ll read something her third graders might enjoy.

“The book we ready right before break is “I Broke My Butt”, she giggles. “It’s about a little boy who has a crack in his butt and he can’t figure out what he did to get it.”

She just knows they miss school too.

“They don’t like not being able to see their friends and not being able to socialize.”

If any teacher is qualified to understand what a suddenly altered world can do to a child this age it’s Jessica.

“I try to be the adult I needed when I was little,” she states.

She was 10 on April 19th, 1995 when her mother, an Army recruiter, Sgt. Vicki Sohn, lost her life along with 167 other people.

Foley says, “I remember everything from waking up that morning to the day they told us she died.”

It was 7 days before searchers could find her body.

Jessica recalls the friends and neighbors who tried to protect her and her 4 other siblings, but she and her family always knew when the end of the day would come.

Stifling tears, she relates, “That was when it was like, ‘Holy crap. Our mom is not coming home.’ So….yeah.”

So she knows now, maybe better than anyone, what her kids need because she was there once too.

“I know the emotions they carry that adults don’t understand.”

Knowing what she knows now is part of the reason she decided to become a teacher herself, to help, to point to the Oklahoma Standard, and to press on.

“There is a sign in my room,” she tells me. “It says to be a good human.”

“My job is to make sure these tiny humans are okay.”

Jessica Foley normally teaches her third grade classes at Cesar Chavez Elementary School in south Oklahoma City.

Both her students and staff are aware of her story, so the school is heavily involved in the annual Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon and teaching about the lessons of April 19.

‘Is This a Great State or What?’ is sponsored by WEOKIE.

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