“I’ve literally had to learn to walk again.”
In late November, searching for Christmas tree decorations, Assistant Principal Corey Ferrera felt fear as her attic gave way and she fell through, dropping 14 feet to the concrete floor of the garage. The severity of her injuries required immediate surgery—she sustained fractures to both feet, breaking both ankles and the shin of her right foot, as well as shattering her left foot’s heel, with fractures in three places. It took six weeks before she was able to put weight on either foot.
“On the day of the accident, my husband had my cell phone before I woke up from surgery and he received hundreds of text messages, with the majority being from my Dreyfoos family,” Mrs.Ferrera said. “It was so comforting to wake up from surgery and have my husband read me the messages that were coming through.”
Following surgery, Mrs.Ferrera’s daily life was transformed significantly. With casts on both feet and a back brace for the first three weeks, additionally suffering minor fractures to her back and sternum, she had to rely on her family members to help her complete menial tasks, and she moved around in a wheelchair.
“I have realized through this experience that the world is just not set up for a person living in a wheelchair,” Mrs. Ferrera said. “Simple things like grabbing a coffee cup or brushing my teeth are not so simple and require assistance. This has humbled me.”
During her recovery, the school community tried to ease Mrs. Ferrera and her family’s unexpected transition. An online meal delivery website was created, where parents and faculty members could sign up to deliver meals to their house.
“I always knew that Dreyfoos was special, but now I know without any doubt that our school community is like no other,” Mrs. Ferrera said. “The love I have felt through this extremely difficult time is something that will remain in my heart forever.”
In addition to bringing food, teachers, students, and parents called and sent cards, flowers, and inspirational quotes in an effort to lift spirits. Some families also brought entertainment for Mrs.Ferrera, with one parent who describes her as an “avid reader” bringing a stack of books.”
“[It is important to be there for her] because she is an outstanding colleague and friend who has always been supportive of others,” school counselor Olga Middleton said. “After an accident, social support is an important factor in the healing and recovery process.”
Mrs. Ferrera is currently attending physical therapy three times a week, which allowed her to return to work full time Feb. 7, walking on crutches.
“The recovery has been slow, but steady,” Mrs. Ferrera said. “Now that I am out of casts and able to try to walk, each day I am making improvements.
Though the accident took her from her duties overseeing the English, math, music and guidance department PLCs and performing classroom observations and parent/teacher conferences, Mrs. Ferrera expressed that her interactions with students as assistant principal are part of what she missed most about working.
“Dreyfoos is like home to me,” Mrs. Ferrera said. “Just like you get homesick on a long trip, I [was] feeling homesick about being away from school for so long. It’s time for me to get back to my people and my kids.”
In her absence, the other assistant principals and Dr. Atherley split her duties, relying partially on the support of other faculty members.
“There has not been a day that has gone by that I haven’t felt missed or loved by my Dreyfoos family,” Mrs. Ferrera said. “I cannot stress how much that helps in the healing process. I will be forever grateful for the outpouring of love and support.”
Mrs. Ferrera believes that along with the community’s support, a positive mindset has been a “driving force” behind her recovery. The incident has given her a new perspective on life.
“This injury caused me to slow down and gave me a lot of time to think,” Mrs. Ferrera said. “I think I’ve become a little more sappy as a result of this […] I’m telling people what they mean to me and saying “I love you” a whole lot more these days. It’s important. I could be paralyzed right now, or not here at all. I won’t waste an opportunity to tell someone that I love them or how much they mean to me.”