Salute Our Heroes: Topeka High teacher finds missing piece, taking in student

Salute Our Heroes: Topeka High teacher finds missing piece, taking in student
Published: May. 22, 2023 at 5:04 PM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Teachers aim to make a difference for their students. But in this case, making a difference was a mutual thing.

Katelynn Madl has been a teacher at Topeka High School for five years and taught for two years overseas in the U.S. Peace Corps.

She knew the job would entail teaching English, grading papers, and helping her students get a diploma — but she never thought it would make her a mom.

“Adonay is my daughter. She has been in my life for a few years now. She’s a student at Topeka High School. She just recently graduated. She wasn’t my student. When she was a freshman, she would come in — we just connected and got closer and closer over the years,” said Madl.

Adonay’s biological mother had been sick her whole life.

“She had chronic heart failure, and we knew with time, her heart was going to get slower. We just didn’t know how long, and they told us only 10% of her heart was working,” said Adonay Salomon-De La Torre.

Adonay’s mother was unable to get a heart transplant and died during Adonay’s sophomore year at Topeka High.

While Adonay was missing a mom, Madl was missing something of her own. And eventually, they filled the missing pieces in each other’s lives.

“My husband and I haven’t been able to have a child. So when she came into my life, it was a blessing,” Madl said. “She and I both push one another. We both learn from one another.”

Adonay is very thankful for her family.

“I have my beautiful mama to guide me through it, and she helps me realize that this world is crazy. But it’s manageable,” said Adonay.

Madl says she wants to encourage everyone to follow their heart.

“When everything happened, it was honestly like a quick ten-minute conversation between my husband and I — just don’t sit and overthink it,” she said.

Adonay will head to the University of Kansas in the fall. She will major in nursing.