Hurst Hills Elementary teacher Jana Chaney gives new meaning to the word dedication. An aggressive breast cancer diagnosis did not stop her from making sure her students got an education.
When you walk into Mrs. Chaney’s 5th grade classroom, you can instantly feel the love and respect for her. She's taken her students on a life-changing journey over the past year -- a life lesson that wasn’t planned.
"This is my journey I share with them. Never give up, just keep on going," Chaney said. "They’ve had a good time watching my hair grow back. It’s just been a journey for all of us."
Chaney was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer last April.
"A very shocking, unexpected diagnosis. I had to take the rest of the year off. I had surgery, began chemo in June, and spent my whole summer doing chemo," Chaney said.
And while still undergoing chemotherapy, Chaney returned to the classroom in August.
"You know my dad said, why don’t you just take off, just stay home. And I was like, what am I going to do, just sit at home? I love these kids. This group of kids I had two years ago and I just wanted to be there for them," Chaney said.
"It just showed her devotion to educating all of her students through everything she was going though and then coming back this year. She only missed a month and a half of school," said Elizabeth Bates, who nominated Chaney to be this month’s Excellent Educator.
"She’s dedicated. She always put her kids first. She focuses on faith, family, and her students," said Hurst Hills Elementary Principal Misty Donaho.
"On behalf of SMU and in honor of your teacher, Mrs. Chaney, who is receiving the Excellent Educator award, I am pleased to present to you and to the school a $1,000 dollar check," said Stephanie Knight, SMU Dean of the Simmons School of Education and Human Development.
"And it doesn’t surprise me," Knight said. "Excellent teachers are like that. It becomes part of their lives, and she has modeled, in school and out of school, excellent education."
"I knew I had to do it. I just, you know, these kids needed me, and I needed this," Chaney said. "I needed Hurst Hills."