Teachers give up sick days for colleague who suffered stroke

Community rallies around beloved educator

Christi Fraychineaud’s fellow teachers at St. Rose Elementary School are trying to find ways to help her in any way they can.

Fraychineaud,  43, a Luling native and mother of three who has taught at the school for the past 20 years, recently suffered a serious stroke and is currently recuperating in neurological intensive care.

She has earned a reputation as an effective and beloved educator and her peers are rallying around her: many have actually donated their vacation days to Christi in the hopes of her being able to return with minimum lost pay time. Some have taken turns watching over her at the hospital as well, while others have taken care of areas of need at her home.News of Christi’s stroke hit many people hard, including Tricia Candies, a longtime colleague of the teacher who teared up when speaking about it.

“She’s so young, so vibrant and so beautiful. She has so much going for her,” Candies said. “It was devastating (to hear about it) … to know one of our own is suffering like she is. We want to do anything we can to make her life easier.”

According to Christi’s sister Jennifer, Christi’s outlook for recovery is positive. However, Fraychineaud’s next opportunity to be with her fifth grade class at St. Rose is unclear.

On July 3, Fraychineaud was at her home when symptoms suddenly struck; she fell backwards and suffered a blow to the head as result. Jennifer said if the teacher’s three kids had not been home at the time, the incident may have been much worse.

“Thank goodness they were with her that day,” she said. Christi has suffered from migraine headaches throughout her life and may have believed her initial symptoms were simply the onset of another headache. Jennifer added, “Admittedly, that’s projection on my part, but that may have taken her off guard.”

St. Rose Elementary has been extremely supportive and helpful in the days since Christi’s fall and stroke.

Candies, a former St. Rose Elementary teacher alongside Christi for many years, said that isn’t hard to understand when taking into account Christi’s character.

“The rapport that she develops with her kids is unbelievable,” said Candies, who described her as an extremely special teacher. “She develops relationships with them where they’ll do anything for her. The parents love her. They always ask, ‘can you move up to the next grade level?’ as their children do.”

Candies said Christi doesn’t play favorites or cater strictly to her more advanced students.

“She’s an underdog person, big time,” Candies said. “She doesn’t just push her more gifted students. She makes sure all of her students are challenged, but not to the point of frustration. She wants them to be proud of themselves. She relates to both girls and boys on their level.

“They don’t make ‘em like her anymore,” she added. “I know it’s a cliché, but it certainly fits in this case.”

Jennifer said her sister has “been amazingly responsive, even if not verbally, since the second or third day. Her comprehension level is obviously there.”

Even if things continue progressing in a positive way for her, Christi still has a climb on her hands. Jennifer said she is likely to require a great deal of physical, occupational and speech therapy on her way to recovery.

Jennifer has set up an account on gofundme.com to help raise money to assist with her sister’s medical expenses. The page, titled Christi’s Medical Costs, has already garnered strong support, with 30 people raising $2,135 in its first nine days online.

There will also be a jambalaya benefit dinner for the cause on Tuesday, Aug. 2. The meals, which include jambalaya, Caesar salad, bread and dessert, can be picked up at the American Legion Hall in St. Rose between 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Each dinner costs a donation of $8. Those interested are asked to RSVP to Sherry Edwards at jambalayabenefit@gmail.com with the numbers of dinners requested by Thursday, July 28.

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