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Love from students helping teacher through cancer fight

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KINGS (WREX) — Schools in the stateline come in all shapes and sizes.

Kings Elementary is on the smaller end.

A school of roughly 100 kids in an unincorporated part of Ogle County.

However, the size of the school doesn't determine the heart of those inside it.

When administrators found out one of their teachers won Teacher of the Week, they wanted to celebrate in style.

A school wide "assembly" was called to talk about the importance of education.

The discussion culminated with presenting the Teacher of the Week award to Tammy Greene.

Greene was excited and honored to receive the award and to have her students and fellow staff take the time to show their appreciation.

"It's a family atmosphere here at Kings. I know all the kids. The kids know me. We all work together to make things happen," Greene said.

Ms. Greene's desire to teach stems from her mother who spent 35 years in the classroom.

Tammy is not far off her mother's mark, currently in her 30th year of teaching.

Her decades of experience have made Ms. Greene much more than just a familiar face at Kings Elementary.

"You get to know everybody. You get to know the kids. You get to know their parents. You get to know their brothers and sisters and grandparents," Greene said.

"You see them out and you go 'oh hi grandma. hi grandpa. It's somebody's grandma or grandpa. Everybody knows everybody."

Ms. Greene has a small handful of students in her class which allows her create a personal connection with them.

She works hard to let the kids know they can rely on her more than just for help with school work.

"I want them to go home at the end of the day and say' ya know, I had a good day,'" Greene said.

"Just make sure that they are loved and they know they can come to me for anything and I'll be there for them."

The message of love has been received loud and clear by Ms. Greene's students.

They appreciate the effort she puts in every day for them.

"She's very nice. She helps me with my work. She's been here for 30 years and she works hard," 4th grader Caden Wright said.

"She's nice. She's really kind. She helps us a lot.We get to do really fun projects," 4th grader Abbi Andrews said.

The love coming from the kids has helped Ms. Greene get through a difficult year.

Last summer, she was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer.

This is the second time she has fought the disease.

It's forced her to miss time at school but the bond she has with her students has helped everyone work through it.

"We've had a kind of up and down year. I've been gone a little bit and that makes it hard but we're hanging in there and the kids are doing what they need to do and so am I so that's always good," Greene said.

Ms. Greene is a fighter.

A fighter who has proven she can win.

No matter if it's Teacher of the Week or breast cancer, the success Ms. Greene has will never be something she claims as her own.

"We work as a team here. It's just Ms. Greene getting the plaque, but it goes to everyone here," Greene said.

"Not only the kids, but it's the teachers, the administration, our secretary, our cook. We all work as a team."

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Evan Leake

Evan Leake anchors for 13 News Today and 13 News at Noon. Evan grew up in Darien, Illinois, a south-west suburb of Chicago. He came to WREX in 2017 and worked his way to the anchor desk in May of 2019. He coordinates both the Teacher of the Week and Inspiring 815 series for 13 News. You can connect with Evan at eleake@wrex.com or Evan Leake on Facebook.

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