She was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2011. She had chemotherapy and radiation for that. When her treatment ended, her husband was diagnosed and then treated for Hodgkin’s lymphoma. And when he finished treatment, in March of 2013 Gale was diagnosed with her second cancer, lung cancer. Since that time, she’s been on chemotherapy.
She never thought of quitting teaching. Her doctors warned that being around kids might compromise her immune system but she wouldn’t stop. “The only way I can fight is if I have something to fight for,” Gale said. That something was the students of Charles W. Fairbanks who she has taught literally for generations.
“To have a purpose is important,” Gale said, “and mine is to teach and be here for these children.”
Even before the cancer she always fought to keep that purpose. When she lost a dedicated music room, she started pushing a cart around the school to do her music lessons. Now that fatigue from the chemo has made walking and pushing the cart difficult, the students come to her in the school hallway for lessons and choir practice.
“We call it Harmony Hall,” Gale said.
Her principal, Paula Peterson, noted, “She is one incredible woman who makes no excuses, puts up a great fight against cancer and is greatly loved by the entire school community.”
But one of her students, William H., summed her up best when he said, “She makes me feel important because even after finding out she had cancer again, she didn’t really have to come back and teach, but she still does.”
This is why students skip recess to go to the once-a-day choir practices and why teachers rearrange class schedules to accommodate her. By being there, she makes them feel important, and they all want to show her how important she is to them, too.
IPS is proud to have a teacher and an inspiration like Mrs. Gale guiding students.
You can catch Mrs. Gale and her Class Act Choir performing at Oasis of Hope Church on December 7 at 4:00 p.m. to raise money for the Clothe-A-Child Benefit and then performing again on December 16 at 12:30 p.m. in the Board Room at the John Morton-Finney Center for Educational Services.