NEW HAVEN — Everyone has at least one unforgettable teacher who made a huge and positive impact on their life.
For Bend Area residents, that teacher could very easily be Marilyn Pierce, who has taught at New Haven Elementary School and the former Hartford Elementary School for 40 years.
And while the teacher is off this year battling pancreatic cancer, her 64th birthday did not go unnoticed by NHES students on Tuesday. With a New Haven police escort, the 500 students and their teachers walked to Pierce’s home and sang “Happy Birthday,” while presenting her with a huge box of handmade cards.
Also on hand for the celebration were Mason County Superintendent of Schools Jack Cullen, Board of Education President Greg Fowler, and NHES Assistant Principal Kim Burris. Principal Stacy Bissell was unable to attend due to a previously scheduled meeting.
“It was amazing,” Pierce said of the surprise visit. “It makes you realize that everything you do has good benefits, especially in this job.”
Pierce was diagnosed with cancer in March 2015. She has six tumors in her pancreas that are too close to the main blood supply to be removed. She has undergone intensive radiation and rounds of chemo, and said the tumors have not grown or moved in the past year.
“The tumors are shrinking very slowly with the chemo,” Pierce stated. “I did have to have a stent put in because the biggest tumor was pressing on internal organs, including my liver, which was making me jaundice.”
She said some of the highlights of her days have been receiving cards from former students from many years past.
“You just don’t realize at the time that you are making such an impact on them,” Pierce added.
She said many students, past and present, have been praying for her and have added her to their church prayer lists.
“I’m still holding on to a miracle,” the teacher said. “I know God can shrink the tumors. My goal is that they will find a cure, but it’s all up to Him.”
She stated these days her main goal is to be a blessing for God.
“We take life for granted,” Pierce concluded. “I just want to give God glory, be a good witness, give a good testimony, and be a positive influence on these kids.”
The teachers and employees at NHES presented Pierce with a basket of individually wrapped gifts earlier in the month, so she would have one to open each day in March.
Mindy Kearns is a freelance writer for Ohio Valley Publishing who lives in Mason County.