154 Sick Days

Carol Clark teaches the sixth grade at Jaime Escalante Elementary School in Cudahy, a city located in southeastern Los Angeles County, California. For the 2013-2014 school year, she missed all but two months of work because of breast cancer. She said, “I started out with the cancer, and then the chemotherapy, and then things got really good and I thought, ‘OK, I beat it, I’m good.’ And then things went downhill again.” She used up all her vacation days and 120 sick days for doctor appointments, chemotherapy, and surgeries. But for the 2014-2015 school year, she was too ill to work and she had used up all her sick days. She said, “I lost pay, I lost my medical benefits, I lost all that stuff.” Her husband, Dave Clark, who also teaches at Jaime Escalante Elementary School, posted a pledge sheet in the teachers’ lounge, asking teachers to pledge to give some of their sick days to her, something that is allowed through the Catastrophic Illness Donation program. He said, “When I got the pledge forms back, it’s people I’ve never seen giving us five days, 10 days. We don’t even know these people.” He added, “We get paid for 180 days in the school year. So she got 154, so almost a whole year.” She said, “Some of the people that donated money, I didn’t even know. They were friends of friends of mine.” Teacher Raquel Prado said, “Just to give a day is just wonderful. And then for them to even say, ‘I’m going to give more to Carol,’ it just shows the heart of people and the generosity.” Teacher Justine Gurrola said, “Carol has given a lot of love to a lot of people. She doesn’t realize it, but she has.” Carol said about the generosity shown to her, “It’s indescribable.” Her husband said, “I don’t know what to say. Thanks. It’s tough.”

For More Information: Jovana Lara, “CUDAHY TEACHERS DONATE PERSONAL DAYS TO SICK CO-WORKER.” ABC7 (Los Angeles, California). 2 September 2014

http://tinyurl.com/lojwlun

For More Information: Stephen Caesar, “After cancer diagnosis, an outpouring of support for Cudahy teacher.” Los Angeles Times (California). 1 September 2014

http://tinyurl.com/pblhur7

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