When Tamika Walker was recently diagnosed with breast cancer, she was devastated. She had the support of family and friends, but she was Chandler View Elementary School’s new assistant principal and was concerned about leaving her duties so soon.
What she didn’t know was that Chandler View, 7800 S. 25th St., had the reputation of rallying around its staff members and community in a big way.
While Tamika was off from work, she received food, gift cards, money , books, cards and loving support. The staff had T-shirts made that said “Team Walker” on them.
Greg Eversoll, an 11-year principal at Chandler View said: “We are a loving school community. When staff members come down with serious illnesses, we cry together, laugh together and we are there to support each other. We find ways to rally the troops, we put together a team, sell T-shirts with the ill staff member’s name on them and all monies collected are given to that person.”
Even the children are involved. A large wall of encouragement from classrooms displayed children’s drawings and sayings such as “You’ve got this,” “We love Ms. Walker” and “Stronger Together.”
The Bellevue school is part of the Omaha Public Schools. You can experience the positive atmosphere over the phone and when entering the building. India Casey, a school secretary, exhibits warmth and helpfulness. Eversoll called Casey “amazing in every way, each and every day.”
Tamika said: “This pouring out of love took me completely by surprise. I am so impressed by our principal and this school community. I felt the love and caring from everyone, and it was what I needed during this time.
“There are other staff members who had breast cancer in the past, and they were so willing to share information with me and give me encouragement. Our superintendent, Dr. (Cheryl) Logan, also reached out to me, which was very uplifting.”
But the love doesn’t stop at the school. Eversoll said a school community donor gave $5,000 last year to help school families battling cancer.
Eversoll told me of a 14-year-old former student at Chandler View who died of brain cancer. That tragedy had a somber effect on the whole community. The school and the community joined together and raised $20,000 with a variety of fundraisers and donations to help the family with medical costs and other expenses.
And, of course, the principal sets the tone of the building. With his welcoming ways and friendly chatter, Eversoll shows that he is compassionate.
And Tamika, who is happy to be back at work, continues her upbeat attitude, living up to the students’ poster that says, “Ms. Walker Rocks.”
As the staff teaches the needed subjects to empower their students and ensure that they know the value and importance of education, they are also demonstrating to students the significance of being kind and caring human beings.
Scientific studies have found that kindness has a great number of emotional and physical benefits. Students being in a school with an environment of kindness can benefit by being happier and having increased peer acceptance, less stress and improved self-esteem.
Eversoll said, “These are proud moments seeing our staff, students and community in action and knowing the importance of goodness and benevolence.”
By their actions, it appears that this school and community fully are practicing the spirit of the quote by the late Mother Teresa: “It’s not how much we give, but how much love is put into giving.”