‘This is her family’: Chalmette school rallies around teacher after leg amputation _lowres

Photo provided by Sharon Coll/Our Lady of Prompt Succor School -- Our Lady of Prompt Succor School students gather around long-time teacher Stephanie Growl during a kiss-a-critter fundraiser held in her honor. Growl, who has taught at the school since 1967, had her left leg amputated due to knee surgery complications. The school, which has been raising funds to help Growl with medical bills, will hold a blood drive today in her honor.

With a teaching career that spans almost five decades, Stephanie Growl has dedicated her life to helping shape the minds and faiths of thousands of students who have passed through the doors of Our Lady of Prompt Succor Catholic School in Chalmette. And now, Growl’s Prompt Succor family is joining forces to help her in what is perhaps her greatest time of need.

Growl, 69, underwent knee replacement surgery in July. Complications resulted in Growl’s left leg being amputated just above the knee. Since the surgery, Prompt Succor students and faculty members have rallied to do what they can to support Growl in her recovery.

The school held a kiss-a-critter fundraiser in Growl’s honor on Oct. 2, in which students donated money to see teachers kiss critters like a donkey, a goat, and a tortoise. Principal Sharon Coll said they raised about $5,000 to help Growl with things like home modifications, medical bills and equipment.

Growl, who has taught at Prompt Succor since 1967, returned to work Oct. 12 and is teaching three morning classes.

“She is a trouper,” Coll said. “Her faith is so strong, and that is what has helped keep her together. She loves the school so much that this is her family and her life.”

Growl said she is touched by the love and support she has received in the past few months.

“There are a lot of people who have stepped forward and have offered help, given help, and made monetary donations,” she said. “Teachers have even gone so far as to cook meals so I could take my time as far as getting back to what is my new normal.”

Growl said that’s just what she is doing.

“With the power of prayer and my faith, it’s just about me learning my new normal. To look at it any other way will be defeating, and I’m not going to be defeated,” Growl said. “I think if I give in to defeat, that shows my lack of faith, and I’m not there.”

Growl said she has times when she struggles, but she refuses to feel sorry for herself.

“Now, I get frustrated like every other human being that all of a sudden has to cope with something they never had before, but I don’t look at this as God is punishing me or as being the worst thing in life that could have happened,” she said. “I often say, ‘Thank you, God, that I only lost a leg.’ People kind of look at me strange when I say that, but that’s exactly how I feel. The only thing that is going to get me through, and what has gotten me through this far, is my faith.”

A blood drive will be held in Growl’s honor Wednesday from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. in the Prompt Succor gym, 2305 Fenelon St. in Chalmette. For more information, call the school at (504) 271-2953.

According to The Blood Center, donors must be in good health, weigh a minimum of 110 pounds and be at least 17 years of age. Donors are encouraged to eat a healthy meal and drink plenty of fluids before and after donating. Participants must bring a picture ID.

For more information about donating blood, call The Blood Center at (504) 887-2833 or (504) 263-1190.