Arkansas teacher goes to extremes to protect family & students

State News

Ali Spilman, a teacher at Springdale Public Schools, recently shared a post on Facebook — asking if anyone has a camper, rent house, or even a barn, so she could have an exit plan if after the start of school things take a turn for the worse.

SPRINGDALE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — A local teacher shares her story on the extremes her family is taking to teach your kids and keep their at-risk son safe as she heads back to the classroom.

People need to understand how much we need them, and how much we need their help to be successful for our little guy.

ZACH SPILMAN, ALI’S HUSBAND

Between 56 chemotherapy treatments and 16 surgical procedures, Zach and Ali Spilman have been through more than most parents.

They have three children. Their seven-year-old, Heiden, is battling cancer.

COURESTY OF THE SPILMAN’S

We’re two-and-a-half years out of three into our cancer journey. We are basically at the 20-yard line at this point, but after all of the things we’ve done, it may not be enough.

ZACH SPILMAN, ALI’S HUSBAND

“We want him to live to be eight and we want him to live to 58 and 108,” Zach said.

Since their son’s diagnosis, Zach has stayed home with their kids, while Ali has continued to work as an art teacher for Springdale Public Schools.

My first day back I was really sad because I gave them one last hug, just knowing what I was going into.

ALI SPILMAN, ART TEACHER, SPRINGDALE PUBLIC SCHOOLS

With no other choice than to continue teaching, this deadly virus is causing their family to go the extra mile in protecting their son. 

It really wasn’t an option for us financially, since I’m the one working.

ALI SPILMAN, ART TEACHER, SPRINGDALE PUBLIC SCHOOLS

In the classroom, Ali wears a lab coat, a shield, and double masks. 

Whenever I am teaching, I’ll have a personal PA system so I can actually be heard because I sound really muffled.

ALI SPILMAN, ART TEACHER, SPRINGDALE PUBLIC SCHOOLS

“An outsider looking in probably thinks it’s overkill, but if you know about my situation then it really isn’t,” she said.

At home the measures are equally intense. 

“We actually eat separately right now,” Zach said. “We want her to be in and out of the kitchen as soon as possible and back into her half of the house.”

Ali stays in the master bedroom.

“We’ve segregated our home,” she said. “There’s lots of separation right now.”

Ali recently shared this post on Facebook — asking if anyone has a camper, rent house, or even a barn, so she could have an exit plan if after the start of school things take a turn for the worse.

She said one of her friends has offered her a place if needed.

We definitely don’t want Heiden to get COVID having only part of an immune system.

ALI SPILMAN, ART TEACHER, SPRINGDALE PUBLIC SCHOOLS

They are doing everything they possibly can to make sure your kids are safe and their kids are protected. 

“I know that my students need to be in the classroom, but I also recognize the dangers for them,” Ali said. “Try and be proactive and think beyond your own household, we’d appreciate it.”

I’m afraid that a COVID exposure could jeopardize all of that because of going to the grocery store or because somebody didn’t want to put on a 50-cent surgical mask.

ZACH SPILMAN, ALI’S HUSBAND

During this unprecedented time for everyone, the Spilman’s said they want to use their story to stress the importance of social distancing and wearing a mask.

Below is some links the Spilman’s wanted to share about preventing infections:

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