Newmeyer happily returns to Indian Lake students

Long-time Indian Lake Middle School 7th grade Intervention Specialist Jean Newmeyer has experienced dozens of “first days of school” in her lifetime, but being back in her classroom this week is an accomplishment she has fought for with every bit of her strength and resolve.

“It was busy and a little chaotic. But it felt good to have some normalcy!” Newmeyer said after teaching students on Aug. 23.

In May of 2016, Newmeyer had a knee replacement, but things didn’t heal up like they should, leading to months of testing. Late in the summer, she was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive form of cancer, known as a soft tissue sarcoma. Newmeyer took a leave of absence from ILMS and embarked on several months of surgeries and treatments to battle the painful stage 3 tumor in her leg.

“Every time I thought I was improving, I got hit with something else. It’s been so much,” she explained.

In November, scans showed the cancer had metastasized to her lungs, making her a stage 4 cancer patient. Newmeyer hit a new low point.

But the staff back at ILMS would not let Newmeyer forget they were counting on her return.

Co-Principal Don Bauer has worked alongside Newmeyer for many years.

He says, “When I began administrating here at the Lake 18 years ago, it didn’t take long to realize the passion Jean had and still has for the students she serves. I believe that passion has been one of the driving forces for Jean to stay focused and determined to beat this cancer thing so she could get back to what she loves the most…teaching!

School supports Newmeyer

Throughout the 2016-17 school year, the ILMS Relay for Life committee organized a t-shirt design contest resulting in yellow super hero themed shirts that students and staff wore often in support of Miss Newmeyer. Several other staff members organized a number of special fundraisers including a “Shop for Jean” with local vendors, “Jean’s Jeans Days” when staff could wear casual attire, a Christmas Door decorating contest and a photo shoot on her behalf. 8th grade Art Club students even decorated two projects for the Logan County Cancer Society’s Doors of Encouragement auction in her honor. During all this, staff members also organized periodic gift baskets, along with a constant stream of messages from a “card shower” that lasted for months.

Newmeyer remembers, “It seemed like every time I got a card, it was another message I really needed that day.”

With help from specialists at the Cleveland Clinic, in December Newmeyer began a new type of soft tissue sarcoma treatment rotating various types of chemotherapies. To date, Newmeyer has completed 12 cycles of chemo and will continue maintenance chemotherapy and monitoring for the rest of her life. Recent physical therapy has helped her regain the ability to drive and walk without assistance, though she is still using a cane in the hallways at school to stay steady in all the foot traffic.

She credits her family, her doctors, her beloved yoga group and the staff at ILMS for helping her get back to school.

“Despite the pain and suffering Jean has had to withstand this past year, the true blessing is the amount of people who have offered her support though their kind words and gestures.” Bauer said. “Although Jean’s battle isn’t over, I believe we are all winners because of the fact she is back!”

Newmeyer agreed. “It was a huge goal to get back here. The support of the school district and everyone, it’s really been amazing.”

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Jean Newmeyer interacts with students on the first day of school at Indian Lake Middle School. Newmeyer interacts with students on the first day of school at Indian Lake Middle School. Submitted photo

Submitted story

Submitted by the Indian Lake school district.