Faith leads teacher through cancer, quarantine

Teresa Schrant, a fourth-grade teacher at Holy Family Elementary School, has been a teacher in the Hays Catholic school system for 40 years. She is May’s Hays Post Teacher of the Month.

By CRISTINA JANNEY
Hays Post

One of the happiest days of Teresa Schrant’s teaching career was the beginning of the spring semester, when she was allowed to go back to school.

Schrant, a fourth-grade teacher at Holy Family Elementary School, was diagnosed with multiple myeloma cancer in 2019. She spent a month in Kansas City, where she underwent a stem cell transplant. When she returned home in mid-2020, she was quarantined in her house for months, only allowed to walk up and down her block as long as she didn’t stop to talk to anyone.

Schrant was no longer allowed in her class for the whole year 2020.

“I was so ready to come back,” she said. ‘It was so hard to stay back after Christmas in the spring [2019] because I felt good.”

She said she missed teaching so much. She sneaked into the school a few times and greeted the children from a distance.

“I’m not done teaching yet,” she said. “I love what I do.”

Although Schrant’s cancer is in remission, her mother was placed in the Hospice shortly before the end of the school year due to a long illness. She said her faith and the support of her school and faith communities meant so much to her in her time of struggle.

“I have people who can support me through their prayers and their faith,” she said. “I can support other people through my prayers and my faith.

Schrant continued to teach religion via Zoom, even though she was quarantined at home. She said she could only know her students through their masks and a screen, which was very difficult.

“I think teaching here has helped me grow in my faith,” she said of the Holy Family. “For that reason, hopefully I can help the kids grow in their faith because they come to find their faith in the world. We have a tough world to fit in.”

“It’s really important to me to teach them that they will always have their trust that they can rely on when there’s nothing else.”

Schrant has spent her entire 40-year career in Hay’s Catholic schools. She started teaching at the former St. Joseph School and eventually moved to the Holy Family.

Schrant regularly has what she calls ‘grand students’ in her class, children of her former students.

The mother of one of those students nominated her for Hays Postmaster of the Month.

“I had Ms. Schrant when I was in second grade, and to this day she is very special to me,” said Ann Gottschalk, parent. “Justin is my last child at Holy Family, and Justin having Mrs. Schrant as a fourth grade teacher made the year even more special.

‘Mrs. Schrant is one in a million. We are fortunate that Mrs. Schrant is with the Holy Family. [She] is one of the best teachers out there. She loves the kids and the kids love her. She treats every child with so much love.”

Schrant said her biggest challenge is motivating kids who don’t like school or who feel friendless to want to be at school every morning.

When the headmaster announces that the students are not going to school, she teases her students: ‘You’d better cry. Don’t cheer. You must be sad you won’t be here tomorrow.’

“Every year I think it’s the best year I’ve ever had,” she said. “I can only think of two years out of 40 that I thought, ‘I don’t think I can do this anymore.'”

The best advice she says she got was from a director who was a nun. She told her that after a difficult year, she should never stop teaching because you will always have that bad taste in your mouth.

“I’ve been lucky enough to have had a good year, after a good year, after a good year, and I’m still here,” she said.

Schrant, 62, said she wants to continue teaching as long as she can remain effective with her students. She has no plans to retire anytime soon.

She will spend her summer putting together some of the 500 photos she took during the school year into a yearbook for only the students in her class, a project she has been undertaking every year since 2006.

Schrant is already looking forward to the first day of school in the fall, her favorite day of the school year.

“I love the first day of school,” she said. “[It’s] new kids, new class, new opportunities, new starts, new beginnings,” she said.

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