Helen Hovey left the parent-teacher conference in tears.
Her son Korbin was “on the slow scale,” his kindergarten teacher had said, destined to struggle in school. They should not expect great things from the 5-year-old, who had just received cochlear implants to improve his hearing.
Hovey tried to think of next steps as she walked away: Buy instructional books? Prepare to teach Korbin herself? But she felt like a plastic ball, careening out of control off the walls — until she saw Susan Rokus.
Dressed impeccably, as always. Nails painted to match, as always.
“Come into my classroom,” Rokus said, and, pretty soon, Hovey was sobbing every detail to the first-grade teacher.
“Well, I don’t believe that about your child,” Rokus said. “He’s just had tubes put in his ears. He’s just hearing words for the first time correctly.”
Rokus sent Hovey home with a handwriting workbook and a promise: “We’re going to have no problem.”
It was the beginning of a decades-long relationship that saw Rokus tutor every one of Hovey’s four children to academic success. Korbin, now a 21-year-old honor student at George Mason, planned to invite Rokus to his college graduation.
But Rokus, a 73-year-old Loudoun County Public Schools reading tutor, died Wednesday night of novel coronavirus-related health complications, according to the Loudoun County Health Department. She left behind a niece in North Carolina, friends said. It is the first known death from the virus reported in Loudoun County and the first of a Virginia public school educator. Health officials said they notified her contacts that she was sick but didn’t say where she contracted the virus.