An elementary school’s teacher job comes with a lot of clean-up. No matter how disciplined and well-mannered children are, they make mistakes. They drop things. They spill. And that leaves the adult in the room to help fix whatever problem has arisen.
So when one Florida teacher saw a trail of juice dripped from her classroom and into the hallway of the school, she barely flinched. Instead, she followed the trail to find its source, presumably to clean up the leaky box or pouch.
But what she found wasn’t what she expected. Instead, she realized the trail she had followed wasn’t juice at all. And the boy she found at the end of her search was in need of serious help, fast, to save his life.
Mandi Kapopoulos served as the reading teacher at Equestrian Trails Elementary in Wellington, Florida. On most days, she’d work with kids who had trouble with reading fluency, comprehension and word recognition. She’d help them improve in these areas, foundational to their all-around success as students.
But on November 1, 2017, her duties would extend far beyond those she completed on a normal day as an educator. As she left her classroom, she noticed a red liquid on the ground. She presumed it was juice and followed it to find its source.
But at the end of the trail, she realized the liquid wasn’t juice – it was blood. And it was gushing from the arm of a third grader named Kolston Moradi. She recognized the eight-year-old, as he had come trick-or-treating on her doorstep the night before.
Kapopoulos told the Sun Sentinel, “He wasn’t screaming or crying or saying anything.” She continued, “There were pools of blood at his feet and his whole shirt was covered in blood.” Little did the reading teacher know, the boy’s life was in her hands.
Shockingly, Moradi’s life hung in the balance because of a commonly used school supply: a bright yellow pencil. The third grader had the freshly sharpened writing utensil in his backpack’s side pocket, placed so that it stuck out from the bag.
Thinking little of it, the eight-year-old laid back to relax at the end of his school day – and that’s when the jutting, extra-sharp pencil went straight through his armpit and six inches into his body, puncturing his artery. “It was kind of like a little pinch,” he told Fox 8 News.
He might not have felt much, but he was in serious danger. He pulled the pencil out from his arm, which allowed blood to gush out of his wound. And that’s when Kapopoulos found him. She acted quickly to slow the boy’s bleeding.
She said, “I pulled my arm out of my sleeve and I used my sleeve to wrap around his arm as tight as I could to hopefully stop the bleeding.” Twenty feet away stood another teacher, Elizabeth Richards, who heard the commotion surrounding Moradi. She turned around to find a gruesome scene.
Richards said, “It was shocking to come upon the amount of blood that the child had lost in such a quick amount of time.” But that didn’t stop her from springing into action alongside Kapopoulos. In fact, Richards had spent two years training as a nurse before switching her focus to education, so she brought medical know-how to the situation.
Richards said, “We got to him and stopped the bleeding in his arm by applying pressure with my hands.” She also laid Moradi down and elevated his arm to slow the bleeding too. The two teachers received further help from the school nurse, who removed the child’s stained shirt and took his blood pressure.
All this happened while Moradi’s mother waited for him in the school’s pick-up line. Officials called and asked her to come inside, where she found her son laying on the ground surrounded by teachers. She had been able to remain calm, she said, because the staff had not been acting upset or nervous.
Even the eight-year-old who had suffered such a traumatic wound kept his composure as everyone waited for paramedics to arrive. It took them 20 minutes, at which time they delivered some shocking news to the adults who had cared for the boy.
One of the paramedics told Moradi’s mother that, if her son’s teachers hadn’t stalled the bleeding from his puncture, the pencil would have killed him. With that in mind, “It feels great to know that he’s here,” Kapopoulos said.
In fact, Moradi experienced an unbelievably quick recovery. Doctors used multiple staples to close the wound and the eight-year-old returned to school the next day. He was just in time for a class field trip to the local aquarium.
Richards told the Sun Sentinel in the days after the incident, “I’m just so thankful that this little boy is still in school with us, walking the hallways, with no after effects.” She continued, “When you know everything that could have gone so wrong went so right.”
His mother, of course, felt the same way. She told Fox 8 News, “You can’t say ‘thank you’ enough to someone who just saved your child’s life. There’s just no words that I could ever say to these two ladies, or the principal, or anyone at this school who had their hand in making sure this all went so well.”
As for Moradi, the young boy was wise enough to realize how lucky he was, all because of his quick-thinking teachers. He also shared kind words with them after returning from the hospital, “Thank you for saving my life.”