Today, I saw an old friend's picture on the paper and my heart sunk. She looked just like I remembered her. Her radiant smile and shining eyes reflected all the infectious happiness she had inside. It wasnt the picture that struck the sad note, but the story to which it was attatched.
"the wreck claimed the life of a well-known and respected Christian school leader whose life inspired many children."
Cheri Sarver was my first boss in the professional field. I became a part time school teacher just a few weeks after graduating from college. It didnt make sense to me, I had studied communication, but I had always wanted to teach. I was hired as a kinder garden teacher aide.
In just a few weeks, a wealth of knowlede and experience poured out from Cheri and unto me. I felt like I was living that scene from "The Matrix," in which Neo learns difficult skills in mere instants by simply plugging in and loading up.
Cheri's imput and ideas extended far beyond the academic realm. She was more than just a school principal. She was a mother, a counselor, a teacher, a friend, an entertainer, an engenier, and at times- a firm disciplinarian. Cheris unique teaching style affected the whole school with a possitive and playful attitude. It was not uncommon to see her skipping from classroom to classroom dressed as a princess or even a weight lifting champion. She inspired the children (and the teachers) to learn through play. For her, history was not a lesson- it was a discovery- and we were the voyagers.
Through Cheri, I learned that there was no such thing as a stupid student, just bad teachers. I learned that in each chair sat a unique and individual person. A child who could grow up to change the world if only his teacher got to know him and meet his specific needs. I learned the value of not giving up. I discovered that the world is not flat, but full of angles. If an entrance to a child's mind is not granted through one method, there were still a million other ways to try. Cheri taught me to discipline in love, never losing the firmness that a child so desperately needs.
In the two years that I worked with her, Cheri saw me change and evolve. I may have never told her how much I learned from her, but Im sure that she could tell. What I never got to tell her was the following...
That I had a daughter. Her name is Kathryn. She looks just like me and she changed my life. I didnt know it, but my little Katy was born sick. Very sick. Deep down, on a chromosomal level, Katy was suffering constant attacks. Her brain was bombarded day and night. Her doctor didnt think there was anything wrong with her- until it was "too late."
By the time Katy was a year old, her brain had suffered serious traumas. There was very little hope for her recovery. But then the Genetecist told me about neuroplasticity. The brain's ability to rewire itself and learn through undamaged brain sections. A child's brain is very resilient up to about two years of age. Basically, I had one year to teach my daughter all that she had missed. I thought of Cheri and the lessons she left imprinted on my heart. I knew it was possible, if I gave it my best shot.
So I gave it my best shot.
I have cried, I have screamed and I have even bled- but I have not given up.
As a result, my two year old Katy is making a beautiful recovery. About a year ago, I was told she might not learn to walk. Today she walks, runs, spins and is even learning to jump. Her little mouth has started to blurt its first words and her way of play is just like any other child- save a minor delay. Katy is taking in the beauty of this world and discovering it bit by bit, because of what Cheri taught me.
I never got to tell her that, but when I meet her in heaven I will thank her for giving my child a second chance at life.
Cheri, I will miss your sweet precesnce here on earth.