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Reed staff gathers around cancer-stricken team members

November 12, 2014

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Reed Elementary School team members are united in their fight against cancer. Pictured (L-R) are Lauren Adams, math interventionist; Mark Fischer, testing and data coordinator; and Christine Davenport, second-grade teacher.

Nov. 12, 2014—Staff members at Reed Elementary School are rallying around three of their employees simultaneously battling cancerous diseases.

To show support for Lauren Adams, math interventionist; Mark Fischer, testing and data coordinator; and Christine Davenport, second-grade teacher, during their fight, the Reed team has held theme days throughout the fall that serve as reminders that they care.

“I think our staff is very supportive this year,” said Reed Principal Kandy Bond. “Knowing we have three staff members battling cancer, we wanted to create an atmosphere of support for them.”

Bond said the idea came about during a conversation over lunch when treatment had forced Adams to shave her head.

“Someone brought up the idea of doing a ‘Hats Off’ day where we all wear hats to school,” she said. “Then that eventually turned into several teachers making hats and giving them to the teachers.”

Reed celebrated “Hats Off” day in September, then held “Wear Pink” days throughout Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October. Finally, to pay respect to Fischer—a longtime supporter of the University of Texas—the staff celebrated “Wear Orange” day in November. 

Fischer, who has worked at Reed since the school opened in 1991, said he was touched by the gesture.

“It was very humbling and very overwhelming to see that kind of support from your co-workers,” he said.

Bond said that the afflictions have come as a blow to the entire staff. This week has been additionally tough on the staff, as P.E. teacher Nancy Lagrappe was forced to take leave for a preventative operation that will keep her out of school through the remainder of 2014.

“It is very much a shellshock for all of us. It just seems like it has been one right after the other,” Bond said. “On top of everything, we had a 27-year-old teacher who just lost her mother to breast cancer. We had to acknowledge it and let the people here know we support them. You wouldn’t believe the amount of teachers saying they’re going to get mammograms because of this.”

Fischer was diagnosed last summer with a type of blood cancer called polycythemia vera, a form of myeloproliferative neoplasmwhere the bone marrow produces too many red blood cells.

Although he is undergoing treatment for a disease he has been told is incurable, Fischer said the unity among Reed staff has lifted his spirit and made him want to fight harder. He gave special thanks to Bond and administrative secretary Barbara Vandever for organizing the special days.

“The degree of support that has been shown, it just leaves you at a loss for words,” he said. “People go beyond their normal routine of what work is in their day to show their concern for other people they interact with. This is much more than just a job—it’s a family.”

 

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Reed staff members participated in an “Orange Out” day to honor testing and data coordinator Mark Fischer, a University of Texas alum. Pictured, from left, are Roman Nunez, second-grade teacher; Candice Jones, art teacher; Mark Fischer; Debbie Winkelmann, Dyslexia/SGRI teacher; Debbie Bowman, second-grade teacher; and (front) Sandra Pichardo, third-grade teacher.

 

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Reed staff support University of Texas alum Mark Fischer, who is battling a type of blood cancer called polycythemia vera, during “Orange Out” day. Pictured (front row, L-R) are Lisa Connell, kindergarten teacher; and Kim Tran, kindergarten teacher; and (back row, L-R) Brook Teague, kindergarten teacher; Tamaria Bolton, kindergarten teacher; Mark Fischer, testing and data coordinator; Jaime Lopez, kindergarten teacher; and Teresa Sutherland, kindergarten teacher.

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