As other teachers wrap up the school year, Mountain View Elementary sixth-grade teacher Kevin Watts is fighting for his life.
Watts has been hospitalized since April 29 due to COVID-19 complications. After contracting double pneumonia and experiencing respiratory arrest, he was taken by helicopter from Catawba Valley Medical Center to Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center.
“Everyone that has had the opportunity to have Mr. Watts as a teacher or watch him around children knows he has a huge heart for kids and sees the ‘I Can’ in each of them,” said Heather Houser, principal at Mountain View Elementary School. “He is the teacher who asks to have the child that is having trouble whether it be in academics or behavior, because he knows it all starts with relationships.”
Sister-in-law Marie Sipe said Watts is still in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center. He was recently taken off of a ventilator, and now has a tracheostomy tube to aid his breathing.
“He’s responding to voices, like he can hear my sister’s voice now,” Sipe said. “He’s also been responsive to his kids.” The Watts family has three children, two of which are students at Mountain View.
“Over the last few months during his sickness, I wasn’t surprised at the outpouring of love from his grade-level team, his colleagues at Mountain View, his students or our community, but I was AMAZED,” said Houser. “His grade-level team who he has worked with for years — Mary Luckadoo, Renee Hughes and Teresa Sigmon — helped enter grades, plan lessons, switched teaching their content area to also teach his, and kept the staff informed of his improvements.”
Sipe organized a yard sale and raffle to raise money for the family. While Watts stays at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, his wife Kristy is staying close by at a hospitality home.
“The yard sale went well, but the raffle is actually still going on,” Sipe said. “We’ll be drawing more tickets this Saturday for it.” Raffle items include items from Vanguard Furniture, Century Furniture, Mary Kay, Hickory Cheese Company, jewelry and more.
Houser said the school also pitched in to support the Watts family. “The school along with our community has donated money and gift cards to help his wife stay with him while he’s in the hospital, provided food for his family, and continues to pray for him daily,” she said. “Other sixth-grade teachers in (Catawba County Schools) have offered to send lessons or activities to those filling in so the students are prepared for the next level. Lastly, our students have been so concerned and so heartbroken their last few months at Mountain View they were not able to learn from Mr. Watts whose sense of humor is as big as his heart.”
If interested in purchasing a raffle ticket, call Sipe at 704-200-3808. Tickets are also being sold at Shooter’s Lounge at 2149 N. Center St., Hickory.
“Daily, we are praying for him to heal and are so ready for our friend to be back with us,” Houser said. “Not many of us can teach or even understand sixth-grade math, so we are so fortunate to have a teacher that makes math relevant and fun, but more importantly, he loves big and he loves hard!”
Emily Willis is a general assignment and education reporter at the Hickory Daily Record.