Connor Bright, 12, has always been a tech-savvy kid. When he was in the fifth grade at Polo Ridge Elementary, he began creating websites and making slideshows for his friends and family. He also worked behind the scenes on the Polo Ridge morning news broadcast as director, anchor and technical director.
Connor, who lives with his parents in Providence Country Club and is now in seventh grade, gained a customer base and began making slideshows for weddings and birthdays. He even created a slideshow for the Make A Wish Foundation.
Recently, Connor created a website that holds a special place in his heart.
When his former media specialist teacher at Polo Ridge Elementary, Maria Bomfim, was diagnosed with breast cancer in December, Connor felt moved to make a website dedicated to her recovery.
Never miss a local story.
Lovingly referred to as Mrs. Bee, Bomfim is currently on a leave of absence from Polo Ridge and Connor wanted her to know how much she was missed.
"It's a place where people can go and write messages to Mrs. Bee," he said. "A lot of people have written to her."
Connor said he created the website as soon as he heard the news of Bomfim's diagnosis. He created it in two days and received immediate responses from the community.
"A lot of people have e-mailed me saying thank you," said Connor. "Mrs. Bee e-mailed me, too, saying how much she liked it."
Connor can't talk about Bomfim without smiling. He said he remembers the first time he met her, during Polo Ridge's inaugural open house in 2008.
"I really wanted to help with the school's news show but I was too nervous to talk to her," said Connor. "My mom started talking to her and she came over to me and was really nice."
Connor said he worked with Bomfim almost every day after school on technical projects aside from the show. He worked on lights and sound for school events and did most of the videotaping. He and Bomfim also worked together on her teacher webpage and experimented with her SMART Board.
Connor did so many technical projects for Polo Ridge, he was named the unofficial "tech guy" at the elementary school. An award was given to Connor for his contributions to the school and is displayed in the media center.
Even after Connor left Polo Ridge and started the sixth grade at Providence Day School, he came by to help with the news broadcast and to spend time with Bomfim.
Connor's dad, Chris Bright, said it was amazing to have someone like Bomfim in Connor's life.
"As a parent, there's nothing better than someone who will go out of their way to influence your child," said Bright. "She was the catalyst to help Connor really understand what he likes to do and gave him the format to do it every day.
"She really is an amazingly positive person."
Bomfim said she felt Connor's love and concern when she saw the website.
"I knew he was incredibly talented, but I didn't expect this gift," she said. "He's using his talent to reach out. He really is just so amazing."
Bomfim, who lives in Monroe with her husband, said she has never met a student like Connor and missed him when he left Polo Ridge. She said she has seen great changes in the shy, young boy she met three years ago.
"Once you meet him, you never forget him," she said. "I know he will grow up to be a great man."
Bomfim is currently undergoing chemotherapy for her Stage 2 breast cancer. She said although her diagnosis was difficult, she feels she has been lucky.
"I still feel fatigue but my symptoms have been very manageable," said Bomfim. "I feel very certain that I will be a survivor."
Connor has continued to stay active in middle school, as he's involved with the tech crew in theater class, the orchestra and plays tennis. He said he enjoys the new responsibilities and freedom of being older, but he still thinks about the time he spent with Bomfim.
"I'm really sad," said Connor. "I hope she will be OK."