By Jess Gable & Olivia Swartz
news and opinion copy & staff writer
Her eyes glazed over with tears as teacher Amy Bushey spoke about the overwhelming support she’s received from her students in the last two years. As Debate, Drama Club and International Thespian Society adviser, assistant director of the fall musical and director of the spring musical, Bushey has a lot on her plate and yet she gives all of the credit to her kids, her students.
“I may have my hand in a lot of things,” Bushey said. “But I really don’t deserve the credit for them because all I do is make sure that the right people are in the right place to do the job and then all the work really falls on them.”
Although she isn’t front and center on stage, she wouldn’t want it any other way. Bushey uses her programs as tools to offer students opportunities they wouldn’t otherwise have. She shares this common goal with her husband, Jonathan Bushey, who was diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), also referred to as Lou Gehrig’s disease. The students are their kids and the focus of most everything discussed in their home.
“Everything that we do in our lives is based on the idea of trying to give kids opportunities to make them better people,” Bushey said. “To give youth opportunities so they can develop for their future.”
When Jonathan was diagnosed with ALS, the Bushey’s were forced to decide whether to involve their kids through this difficult season in their lives. They found that the support from the students was an absolute necessity for them.
“We were going to go down this road and take the kids with us so they could be there to support us,” Bushey said. “Those programs and those kids are what we’re going to have when we won’t have each other anymore.”
Ultimately, they used his illness as a way to teach the students about life and the realities that must be excepted.
“We wanted to share his illness with his kids so they could learn that life is not fair and you deal with what you have and you get
up and go on and rely on your friends and do what you need to do,” Bushey said.
Bushey does just that, she does what she needs to do, reflecting her husband’s motto, “The show must go on.” Even though stress from her personal life is at times overwhelming, she’s consistently at dress rehearsals, practices and performances. Her strength and resilience challenges her students to push work harder when preparing for Debate or a performance.
“She’s going through all that, so it gives you a reason to succeed and push yourself to the next level,” junior and drama club member Tyler Grady said. “If she’s here helping you get through everything and dealing with rehearsals and school when she could be spending time with her husband, you want to succeed and work harder then you are.”
Time is a constant sacrifice Bushey makes willingly. Even though it is a difficult one, she turns to her students to encourage and support her. Her kids are her motivation.
“She’s willing to be there for her students,” Grady said. “Because she’s there for us, we can be there for her. When something is going wrong with Jonathan, her kids keep things going.”
The interpersonal relationship between Bushey and her kids is one of equity. Her students are aware of her husband’s illness while Bushey is also cognizant of her kids’ lives. No matter what may be going on behind the scenes, her kids’ interest is the first priority.
“Some days it may be tough but always in the back of her mind she wants them to be having fun and to be proud of what they’ve accomplished by the end,” Assistant Drama Director Molly Stewart said.
Stewart has been working alongside Bushey for the past 14 years. She’s seen firsthand the relationship Bushey creates with her students as well as Bushey’s determination to see her students succeed.
“Her biggest motivation is her students and making sure they know what they can do,” Stewart said.
Although she’s had to spend more time at home with her husband, everything always gets done. Her students take the responsibility of pulling everything together during her absence.
“They’ve stepped up and done what they need to do so that I can do what I want but also spend time at home,” Bushey said. “That’s really cool and that makes me feel like everything I’ve done over the past 15 years has come together.”
Her kids wouldn’t want it any other way especially when taking in to consideration all that she’s done for them as well as the sacrifices she makes every day. When the students step up, it’s their way of supporting Bushey and giving back a portion of her hard work and time.
“The kids have been my saving grace the last two years since Jonathan was diagnosed with ALS,” Bushey said. “I’m just really moved by all these kids and everything they’ve done.”