ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Emmanuel Kelley, 9, is full of energy. 

For the last few years, his mom said he has struggled with his emotions. 

What You Need To Know

  • Marsha Nordblad is this week's A+ Teacher

  • Nordblad didn't give up on a struggling student

  • Student, Emmanuel Kelley, went from a Kindergarten learning level to a 3rd grade level 

  • More A+ Teacher stories

"He has anger problems, he is ya know, single parent. It’s more than just him ya know and he needs that extra help," said Krisitn Doffort. “School has been hard for him until this year. He has been in three different schools and the first two I would get calls every week to come pick him up, just because they didn’t want to deal with him and fill his needs.” 

Doffort added that those first two schools didn't know how to handle his outbursts. In fact, in May 2019, things boiled over. 

“I was worried for him. His last school even went so far as to calling officers out and having him put in a police car, and taken to a psych ward,” said Doffort. “I was scared, when you pull up to the school and your kid is in the back of a cop car at 8 years old, that is hard."

After a day of psych evaluations, he was immediately released. It was agreed he would be moved to yet another school. He would attend Fairmount Park Elementary. 

On his first day he met his new teacher. Their first exchange left an impression. 

“I said, 'Is there anything you want to tell us about yourself?' And he said, 'I am bad,'" said Marsha Nordblad, his third grade teacher. 

Bad. That is how the young child saw himself. 

“I knew my work was cut out with him, but we plunged through," said Nordblad. 

She decided she would not give up on Emmanuel. Nordblad found outlets for his energy and stayed in constant contact with his mom.  

“She calls me daily. She tells me when he is doing great, if she has a problem, she calls and lets me talk to him to calm him down," said Doffort. 

When coronavirus put even more stress onto Doffort, who is a single mother of two, Nordblad bought them dinner one night. 

“I just connected with Emmanuel and his mom," said Nordblad. "I saw how she was struggling, yet he was getting on that computer everyday doing his best to complete the lessons." 

At the end of the school year, Emmanuel went from a Kindergarten learning level to passing third grade. 

“Somebody believed in me at one point, and now that is my job is to believe in others too," said Nordblad. 

The good news too, is even though Emmanuel will be in fourth next year with a different teacher. Mrs. Nordblad has already told Emmanuel he can come to her room anytime he feels overwhelmed and needs to cool down.