PAOLA — Kelly Styles will never forget the way Level 3 special education teacher Adam Bancroft found a way to connect with her son, Keith.
Due to a seizure disorder that caused brain damage, everyday tasks become difficult challenges for Keith.
“My son’s doctors told my husband and I to never expect Keith to be able to perform simple tasks like addition and subtraction, let alone fractions and gaining a semblance of independence,” Styles said.
That changed when Bancroft started working with Keith.
“He was able to get results out of my special-needs son that no one, not even the doctors, ever thought would be possible,” Styles said.
One specific memory that sticks out to Styles is the day Keith brought home math homework that was frustrating him.
“My son loves to act like he does not know how to do something in order to get out of doing it,” Styles said. “After an hour of trying to work with my son, I sent Adam a text message letting him know that homework was going nowhere and that I would send it back and Adam could hold him out of art to finish.”
Instead, Bancroft stopped by the Styles’ home in Pleasanton on his way home from school that day.
“He sat on my kitchen floor with Keith for half an hour and got him to do his math homework,” Styles said. “That level of caring and love for what he did is a trait rarely seen in today’s world. It was one of the many things that endeared him to my family.”
Styles’ story is not an uncommon one.
Shortly after word broke earlier this summer that Bancroft had been killed in a vehicle accident June 21 near Fort Scott, stories from parents, fellow educators and community members started pouring out onto social media. Stories about how Bancroft greeted students every day as they walked into school. Stories about how he always went the extra mile. And stories about the passion he displayed for his work each and every day.
“He made me a better para,” said paraprofessional Debbie Hayes, who worked with Bancroft at Paola Middle School. “We miss him desperately.”
Hayes was joined by fellow paraprofessional Sherry Ball and other teachers and community members during a virtual 5K Fun Run & Walk in memory of Bancroft that took place Monday, Oct. 21.
A virtual 5K allows participants to choose their own location and set their own schedule while still contributing to an overall cause. The money raised at the Oct. 21 event will benefit the East Central Kansas Special Education Cooperative Future Special Educator Scholarship that is awarded each year to a high school graduate who will be pursuing a degree in special education or a related field.
Wearing bright red T-shirts, the participants in the Oct. 21 event walked from the Paola Middle School parking lot to Sonic Drive-In in Paola.
One of those participants was Adam’s wife, Susan, who said she has been overwhelmed by the number of positive stories people have shared with her about Adam.
“He would be so honored, and it is a testament of the impact he made on the staff and students,” Susan Bancroft wrote about the event on her Facebook page. “Thank you for remembering him.”
In addition to the ECKSEC Future Special Educator Scholarship, Susan said an Adam Bancroft Memorial Scholarship also has been created.
Styles said it’s amazing to think that even in death, Bancroft is still impacting lives.
“I don’t think he honestly realized how much he did for all of the families he touched through working with their children,” Styles said. “He was a very humble man who felt nothing for himself when he meant so much to many others.”