PAY IT FORWARD

Parent pays it forward to special ed teacher

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PHOENIX (CBS5) -

Teaching is a tough job and it's harder in special needs classrooms, so when a Valley educator fell on hard times, a parent nominated her for Pay It Forward.

Sasha Wordlaw has only been at Pima Elementary for seven months but as an educator of special needs children, she's already making a huge difference.

"She's such a giving and nice person," Jerrel Ellerby said.

Ellerby's wife works with Wordlaw.

Their son, Jerrin is autistic.

They understand better than anyone how much commitment the job demands.

"To me, it's like another civil service. Being a teacher, being anyone who is in a state job, you don't get paid the most, but what they do means a lot to the community and to the people, especially to special news families," Ellerby said.

In addition to being a single mother of a 15-year-old boy, Wordlaw goes to school at night, studying theater at ASU and Scottsdale Community College.

"My car broke down the day before Christmas Eve, and a little before that, Thanksgiving weekend, I found out that I would have to move by March," Wordlaw said. "It's paycheck to paycheck and you have to figure out how much of the rent you can pay. How many utilities you can juggle and you know, it's a constant struggle."

"When I heard about her situation, it touched my heart because I know how challenging life can be because we live in a competitive world and some of us have surplus and others have needs that aren't being met," Ellerby said.

Ellerby wanted to tack on a sizable check of his own money to CBS 5's $500 cash awarded through the Pay It Forward program.

"I wanted to thank you by giving you $500 from CBS 5 as well as an additional $360 to help alleviate some of those financial worries you had to deal with recently," Ellerby said.

"I'm holding it all in because if I really show how I feel right now, I might burst," Wordlaw said.

Wordlaw, like many CBS 5 Pay It Forward recipients, is already thinking of ways she could pay it forward as well.

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