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Celebration for Gerard Teacher on Her Return to Crosswalk Duty

Balloons, cheers and lots of horn-honking greeted Gerard Elementary teacher Dianna Holland as she headed to her first after-school crosswalk duty since the school year began.

                The fifth grade English/language arts teacher, who has been battling cancer since February, has had to leave at the end of each school day for radiation treatments, following surgery and chemotherapy. Her last treatment was one week ago. While Holland has an “A” in classroom attendance, she has had to forego her afternoon crosswalk duties—until last Friday.

                “When Dianna told me her last treatment would be on that Thursday, she also said she couldn’t wait to be back on duty on Friday with our walkers,” Principal Tracy White said. “It made me think about all we take for granted. Instead of complaining about things, she was excited about the chance to be getting back out there in the heat, the wind, the rain, the cold—with our students.”

                “I got with her grade level team and discussed what we could do to celebrate her last day of radiation,” White said. “We decided it would be much more fun to celebrate her first day back on the crosswalk.”

                When the bell rang to dismiss the Gerard walkers heading home, Holland walked out of her classroom to hallways and sidewalks lined with cheering students and teachers. She was also presented with a crown, a decorated stop sign and a neon safety vest highlighted with the words “Queen of the Crosswalk” and “Back on Duty.”

                “I know Mrs. White thought I was crazy when I told her I couldn’t wait to get back to work at the crosswalk,” Holland said. “I love the few minutes every day with my group of student walkers. As we wait for the traffic to clear they share about their day, or what is going on in their lives—from a new baby to news about their older siblings who had me as their teacher. They are precious moments.”

                Holland had no inkling of the surprise celebration awaiting her, but admitted she was curious about the balloons that were tied all along the school fence.

                “I wondered if it was for something special that was taking place that day,” she said. “For me, the day started out special with donuts, followed by flowers. I never suspected the balloons were for me--I had no idea. My husband, mom and sister came up to be a part of the celebration, and I didn’t even notice them. I was that surprised.”

                This is not Holland’s first bout with cancer, but White said the teacher is showing the same courage and determination that she has become known for.

                “This is not her first battle, but she has handled every one with grace, strength and courage,” White said. “Her main concern is wanting to be there for her students. She chose to start this year in the classroom, working with students face-to-face. That’s just how she is. She’s that positive, relationship-building, loving teacher who is always sensitive to the social and emotional needs of kids.”



Gerard Elementary teacher Dianna Holland heads to her afternoon crosswalk duties amid cheers and horn honking. Holland has just ended a series of after-school radiation treatments which interfered with her special moments with students at the crosswalk, prompting a surprise school celebration upon her return.