Denton pre-K teacher helps save 5-year-old student’s life

A pre-K teacher in Denton was honored this week for saving a student’s life.

The connection the teacher makes with her students allowed her to notice something was different about one little girl.

Denton pre-K teacher Taryn Hope's watchful eye turned out to be a lifesaver for Gia Garza, one of her students at Gonzalez School for Young Children.

“I stepped back and I watched her. She couldn’t put on her jacket. Her arm kept shaking,” Hope recalled. “I said, ‘That’s not right.’ Something went off in my gut, and I said I got to call mom.”

“It was about midnight when they did the MRI scan,” recalled Candace Mitchell, Gia’s mom. “And they pulled us into a room and said they saw a tumor in her brain.”

Doctors found Gia had a brain tumor at the age of 5.

“The whole room got silent. It was almost a blur,” Mitchell recalled. “We didn't know what to say. What to think. It was like a dream.”

Days later, Gia had surgery. The same day, her mother went into labor with her other child.

Mitchell says she is thankful every day for Gia’s teacher.

“She's a blessing. Definitely a blessing. We love her. Gia loves her,” Mitchell said. “I’m just happy we caught it when we did, and she's here now. She's happy no matter what. Just seeing her smile brings us joy.”

From learning how to walk again to walking at her pre-K graduation, it’s been a long journey.

“On graduation day, I’m like it’s not my own kid, but I cried on graduation day because it was a huge feat,” Hope said.

This week, Denton ISD trustees recognized Hope for what she did. Hope says she is just happy Garza can continue to share her infectious smile with others.

“She did it. She’s a fighter. She is strong,” Hope said. “To get back into my classroom, that is awesome.”

Gia will have an MRI in Fort Worth on Thursday. Her mother says the recovery is going well and loves being a kindergartener.