Archive for Thursday, June 23, 2005

Cancer couldn’t stop teacher

June 23, 2005

When Cheryl Rader speaks of her kids, she isn't referring just to her two sons, but to every student that she has ever had in class.

"Once you are in my class, you are one of my kids," Rader said.

Rader has taught in Lansing since 1992, and says deciding to teach was one of the best choices she ever made.

"That same year my youngest son was off to college, and I got a new realm of kids," she said.

She said even to this day when she talks about "her kids," her two sons ask if she is referring to them or her students.

Despite her love and devotion to her job and students, a diagnosis of breast cancer in July 2000 and then ovarian cancer nine months later left her unable to continue teaching full-time. Rader said that she and the students were lucky to find a willing full-time substitute, Carrie Ritchey.

"If I had thought it would be bad for the kids, I would have resigned," she said. "It would have been a horrible year and unfair to the kids to have different substitutes come in every week, but the students understood that they had two teachers, and we kept in very close contact."

At the start of the 2002-2003 school year, Rader wanted to go in the first day just so the students would know her, and so that she could meet them, despite the poor condition that chemotherapy had left Rader in.

In January of 2002, Rader returned to teaching part-time, having Ritchey teach when Rader needed her chemotherapy treatments. In the fall of 2003, having been off chemotherapy for nearly eight months, Rader returned to teaching full-time, which she hadn't done in three years.

"The obstacle that I have had to try to overcome is called cancer, but everyone has some kind of hurdle to jump in their lives, and your choice is how you are going to react to it," Rader said. "It is your attitude towards your battle that matters."

Rader said she tries to teach her students that lesson as well.

"You have to try and teach kids at school more than curriculum," she says.

Name: Cheryl Rader

Address: 18119 High Prairie Road, rural Leavenworth

Occupation: Fifth-grade teacher at Lansing Intermediate School

Graduate of: University of St. Mary, B.S. in elementary education, 1991

Family: Husband Gary and sons Bret, 34, and Brian, 31

How long have you lived in Lansing and what brought you here? We moved here 28 years ago when my husband became District Conservationist for Leavenworth County.

What do you like most about Lansing? I like the schools, the kind people, and the feeling of community.

What do you do to relax? I enjoy reading, quilting, and counted cross-stitch.

What would surprise people about you? I was the general contractor when we built our house.

What's the best advice you ever received? Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take but by the number of moments that take our breath away.

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