On his first day as a teacher at Lashmeet Matoaka Elementary School in Princeton, West Virginia, Zach Meadows introduced himself to a bunch of fifth graders.
They were quiet, maybe a little afraid of his size — all 6-foot-6 of him. They could only see his eyes because of his mask, required because of the coronavirus pandemic. He said he was from right up the road in Mercer County, that he loved sports. And that when he was right around their age he was a patient at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
He had been diagnosed with a brain tumor called craniopharyngioma.
Zach explained just enough of his story so the students could understand. He didn't say it to them, but the way he teaches comes from his experience at St. Jude. He reminds them that every person is in a battle. How they respond will determine if they're successful.
“St. Jude opened my eyes as far as learning to care for everybody no matter the background,” he said. “I want them to feel loved, but I also want them to feel inspired, that they can make it.”