LITCHFIELD PARK, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -- A first-grade teacher in Litchfield Park was recognized for her love of children when she adopted four children from the same family.
“She and her husband were only married for a year and they took on three kids and they’re all biological siblings,” said Melanie, the parent of one of Jennifer Basney’s students. “They had three days’ notice for the new baby and she said, ‘she’s already a part of our family’.”
3TV’s Tess Rafols and Arizona’s Family Surprise Squad visited Scott L. Libby Elementary School for a pep assembly and used the school’s annual Vocabulary Parade to surprise the mother of four. The parade is comprised of children dressing up to illustrate a word. But the Surprise Squad and the school arranged to have two special words mixed in with the crowd.
“3TV came to see your incredible Vocabulary Parade, so I’m going to turn it over to them,” said Principal Naylor.
“I’m loving all your different costumes,” said Rafols as she worked her way through the audience of teachers with their students. “Where’s Mr. Geography?” A small boy held up his homemade costume of a globe.
“I saw a really cool one that said ‘surprise’. Come with me, little guy,” said Rafols as she took a boy to the front of the group with her.
Rafols approached a second-grade girl and asked her about the word on her costume.
“I’m celebrating my first-grade teacher, Mrs. Basney,” said the girl.
“Awww. Who’s Mrs. Basney?” said Rafols to the crowd.
The teacher raised her hand and laughed.
“Can you come over here real quick?” said Rafols.
“What?” giggled Basney as she worked her way through the crowd.
“Can you read what that says?” said Rafols pointing to the boy’s t-shirt.
“Surprise!” said Basney.
“Surprise!” said Rafols. “We’re here for a special Arizona’s Family Surprise Squad for Mrs. Basney!”
The crowd cheered, while the surprised teacher hugged the two students standing with her.
“You have four kids,” said Rafols.
“Yes,” said Basney.
“So, we bet you it gets a little tough and hard at times,” said Rafols.
Basney’s said her family was all there and they were called up front to join her.
“This is Mr. Lou Goldstein,” said Rafols.
“I’m also with the Valley Toyota Dealers,” said Goldstein. “We heard this story and we wanted to get right behind it. We wanted to give them a little bit of a break in their normal routine. On behalf of the Toyota Dealers Association, we want to give you this gift.”
“Go ahead and open it,” said Rafols of the small gift bag.
“Open it! Open it! Open it!” the crowd chanted, while the teacher and her children took out a small pencil box.
“Date night!” laughed Basney, reading the gift card from The Spa at The Victory Club. “The spa.”
“Well needed,” said Basney’s husband.
“They have a date night to go to the spa and don’t worry, Melanie’s going to babysit for you,” said Rafols. She then instructed Basney to turn the gift card over to reveal another surprise.
“Two-thousand and six-hundred dollars!” read Basney.
“Wow!” said Basney’s husband.
The crowd erupted into cheers and applause.
“Thank you for what you do, not just as a teacher but for opening up your home, loving these kids unconditionally and expanding your home now to the fourth baby,” said Rafols. “Hopefully that money will help you with diapers and formula and maybe a few other things to help with raising your family.”
“Thank you so much,” said Basney.
“Such a blessing,” said Basney’s husband.
“We got married and decided we wanted to foster right away,” said Basney.
“Our first placement, my husband went and picked up our son, now, from a shelter. He came home with a shower cap on his head because he had lice at the time. He had just a pair of pajamas on and nothing else. That’s all he came with.”
“And we said we wanted to adopt eventually. We had no clue where this path was going to lead or who was going to come into our home. It became his forever home and that’s what every child wants. We wanted the kids to be together. They’d been taken from what they know and for them to be together, it means everything to them. When we first told them about the baby, we said we want to take this baby because we love you so much, she’s part of you and you guys all need to be together,” said Basney.
“I took seven weeks off school, so I don’t have an income right now. I just came back last week. My husband has his own business and with the baby and Department of Child Safety, he hasn’t been going to work. His focus has been his family. It was not easy. It was really difficult at times, but I think it was all meant to be,” said Basney.
Arizona’s Family Surprise Squad is sponsored by your Valley Toyota Dealers.