A Hero's Welcome

A Hero's Welcome
Posted on 02/12/2020
KEARNEYSVILLE, WV. -- Students at North Jefferson Elementary School (NJE) got a huge surprise Monday when an assembly to celebrate their recent community work turned into a big welcome home celebration. NJE Pre-K Teacher and Sergeant with the U.S. Army Reserves, Jiketta Underwood, was deployed in February 2019 to serve overseas and found out late last week that she would be returning home a month earlier than expected. She quickly enlisted her co-workers to help surprise her son, Malachi, who is a first-grade student at the school. American flags were waved as the entire school cheered after Sgt. Underwood came out to surprise Malachi during the assembly. NJE Principal Nicole Johnson said the staff at NJE is like a family, and they were happy to help with preparations. She said they have been supporting Underwood since she left to serve her country.
“The entire year has been all about the entire school supporting and taking care of her [Sgt. Underwood’s] son while she was gone.”
Sgt. Underwood said it meant a lot to her to have their support.
“I can’t even express how grateful I am for my work family,” she said. “It’s a good feeling to be back and get back into a normal routine.”
Sgt. Underwood’s classroom aide, Edna Lee, played a critical role in planning the surprise and maintaining the classroom. Sgt. Underwood plans to be back in the classroom Feb. 19. Sgt. Underwood described hugging her son for the first time as “amazing,” and said that she plans to celebrate with a trip to some of Malachi’s favorite places.

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