Frontline Heroes: Va. teaching aide works 3 jobs to support her family

EDITOR’S NOTE: During the coronavirus pandemic, there are people throughout the community working on the frontlines. WTOP is honoring essential personnel through its Frontline Heroes campaign. Each day, WTOP chooses two nominees, awards each $100 and donates another $100 to Feed the Fight DC, a D.C.-based nonprofit supporting local restaurants, health care workers and first responders during the pandemic. Some of those honorees will be spotlighted in articles. 

Kathy Ripper of Stafford, Virginia, works three jobs to support her family, often putting in seven-day weeks.

When she isn’t working online as a teaching aide at Crossroads Elementary School in Quantico, Virginia, she is delivering pizzas and other takeout food.

Ripper is one of the latest people awarded for her dedication through WTOP’s Frontline Heroes campaign.

Kathy Ripper
Kathy Ripper is being recognized as a Frontline Hero. (Courtesy Kathy Ripper)

“When I got the email I was like ‘What?’ Yes, I was very surprised and honored,” Ripper said.

Along with her 15-year career as a kindergarten teaching aide, Ripper has delivered pizzas for Domino’s for 25 years. She also works as a delivery driver for DoorDash.

She was nominated by her husband as a thank you for working so hard to support their family.

“I am working hard on teaching online during the day, and then as soon as school is over, I go out and I either work at Domino’s or DoorDash. I also do it all weekend and every evening because right now that’s what needs to be done,” Ripper told WTOP news.

She starts off weekdays by logging into a virtual classroom to teach young students their ABCs and basic counting, which is a little different than her role in a regular classroom.

“My job was mostly to take care of the children. I made sure their zippers were zipped and buttons were buttoned. I helped them tie their shoes because they don’t know how. I taught them how to wipe their noses and sneeze in their elbows. (I) taught them manners and how to be kind of their friends. But I’m not doing any of that now.”

While it has been hard to transition into aiding online, she said young students are often entertaining.

“They are often turn around in a chair, backwards, upside down, playing with their little brother, showing us the cat, showing us the dog. It’s actually quite amusing.”

Once Ripper logs off from the classroom, her other jobs begin.

“It has been extremely busy,” said Ripper.

In her 25 years as a delivery driver, she said this is the busiest month that she has ever seen. That is not all that has changed. She must also follow social distancing guidelines and make contact-less deliveries.

“We leave the order at the door and ring the doorbell and then text them to let them know the order is there. But I miss seeing the smiley faces of the kids happy to get their pizza. I miss the dogs coming to the door and petting them.

“It’s just really different it’s a very impersonal now, but people do wave at me from the window.”

Kathy’s husband, Rob Ripper, nominated her to be a Frontline Hero.

“She could not be a more hard-working wife and mother,” he said.

Know people who would be good candidates for WTOP’s Frontline Heroes award? Nominate them online, and their actions could be recognized on-air.

Luke Lukert

Since joining WTOP Luke Lukert has held just about every job in the newsroom from producer to web writer and now he works as a full-time reporter. He is an avid fan of UGA football. Go Dawgs!

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