As we head back to school, Action News is excited to launch a new series honoring those who go above and beyond in and out of the classroom.
It’s called Ann Marie’s All Stars, featuring the unsung heroes working tirelessly to better our children’s lives every single day.
Our first All Star comes to us from Detroit’s Westside Academy with an unbelievable gift from Ms. Nadirah Muhammad.
When Aja Booth walked into Ms. Nadirah Muhammad’s class on the first day of school, the teacher had no idea what her student was up against. She was a sick teen fighting through dialysis with a goal of becoming the first in her family to graduate high school.
It was with a simple “no problem” the Health and Physical Education teacher said she’d gladly give Aja the kidney she so desperately needed.
“I was depressed, lonely,” Aja said. “Hoping and praying that someone was going to donate that kidney.”
“Her story, she never complained,” Ms. Muhammad said. “I would not have known if I had not overheard that conversation.”
It was a conversation about a book Aja wrote documenting her journey through kidney failure and dialysis since age 12.
Ms. Muhammad immediately went into action- getting tested and learning she was a donor match and beginning what would be her greatest lesson yet.
“I already told Ms. Muhammad, I have three heroes: God, my husband and you and she will be special in my heart all the days of my life,” Westside Academy Principal Andrea Ayler said.
“Teachers, we are more than just teachers, we are friends, we’re mothers we’re fathers – we’re that constant in some these kid’s lives,” Ms. Muhammad said.
With the full support of her family, friends and school, Ms. Muhammad says only once did she have reservations.
“One of the doctors told me that there was a 2 to 3 percent chance of death,” she said. “Everybody wants to go to heaven but nobody wants to die to get there.”
It’s because of that risk and the magnitude of the surgery that Aja wouldn’t allow herself to believe it was real.
“When I woke up and started crying and, ok, she really did it,” Aja said.
Now, 9 months later, both are in great health. With the love and support of Ms. Muhammad by her side Aja became not only the first in her family to graduate high school but the first to attend college. She’s now studying to become a nurse, her way of giving back to those who are going through a similar struggle.
“I don’t know how enough to thank her,” Aja said. “She’s my hero because she gave me a second chance at life.”
Ms. Muhammad says she’d do it all over again. The surgery didn’t slow her down either. She’s running the Detroit marathon next month.
Congratulations to Ms. Nadirah Muhammad of Westside Academy.
Action News will be honoring a different All Star in our schools every week this school year- and we want to know who you think should be recognized.
Whether it’s a bus driver who goes above and beyond, a student who helps others or a teacher who is fully dedicated to building great minds – we want to share their stories and honor out community’s all stars.
To submit an All Star email email@example.com.