Originally Posted Sunday, May 10, 1998
Dear Mr. Stanford...
- Bryn Harris, 5th grade, Wedgwood Elementary
You inspired me to go back to school! You are like a guardian angel helping me and others stay in school. I was afraid people would make fun of me because I am in special education but I am not afraid anymore because you inspired me. Get well soon.
- Rosie Calahorrano, Kentridge High School
I wish you luck! My Grandma is going through chemotherapy right now. She is doing great. I know you will do just fine. Take your time.
- Angela Hansen, Eckstein Middle School
You were a very strong man about loving kids.
- Ziearicka Harrell, Graham Hill Elementary
I have pulled my grades up from a D to an A. I think it's because of the great influence you had on me. We never did get to teach you to ride the unicycle.
- Christina, Washington Middle School
You know I'm not doing the best in school but I am trying my hardest to do good. Last quarter the best thing that happened to me was that I got an A. Now I know I have to get more of those A's. So try to put on a happy face.
- Charles Sparks, Washington Middle School
You probably don't remember me. I was at last year's reading awards. I shook your hand. I just wanna let you know that I'm still reading thanks to you. You have a good day, Mr. Stanford.
- Francis Sandico, Washington Middle School
My science teacher told me you have white blood cells and red bloods, and your white blood cells are taking over. My grades have gotten a lot better. I hope you don't get too weak. I am going to stay in school for you. I am going to really try to keep you happy while you're in the hospital. Whether you know it or not, you're a really nice person.
- Brandon Winston, Washington Middle School
You are what you wear! May your recovery be faster than a speeding bullet.
- Peter and Michele Sutherland, Kirkland
(Along with this note came a Superman T-shirt for Stanford.)
After clarifying that "Superintendent" is not quite the same as "Super Nintendo," I reminded the class that our very own superintendent had come to our classroom just a few weeks ago. This, of course, brought up the topic of your current illness, which naturally resulted in a desire to send you some get-well cards. I'd like to add my "Get Well" sentiments to theirs, and let you know that I value your hard work on our behalf. For the time being, however, you need to work hard at getting well!
- Grace Popoff, West Woodland School
You're a great leader. We need more gentlemen like you.
- Audrey Shalan, Marysville
Mr. Stanford. This is only a test. You will pass with flying colors. Please continue as our fearless leader. We need you.
- James Grandison, Family support worker at Adams Elementary
Hi, My name is Kyle and I'm a 17-year-old senior at Blaine High School. I must admit when I first heard about you I thought to myself, "sure, cancer is a serious disease, but why is this man so much more publicized than any others?"
Now I know. Standing here in my kitchen listening to your story, I almost began crying. The way you care so much about the children of your area . . . how you begged parents not to let their children's focus slip during this terrible time . . . how if you were in a room full of people and someone was to be singled out to deal with leukemia, you would want to be the one picked - because you know you are one that can, and will, beat it. Go get 'em.
- Kyle Grant, Blaine
I don't know how to say this, but I really know how you feel. But please don't think this will be the last moment of your life. Think that this is just one more step on the existence. Think that you made your part, think that you change the world, maybe not too much, but remember that we will never forget all the good things that you made for us.
I really don't know you, but what I know is that you are a spectacular person, not like the others.
- Arturo Rodriguez, English as a Second Language student, West Seattle High School
I'm writing this letter because I heard that you are so sick. And I wanted to say some words. You don't have to be afraid about your illness if you believe in God, pray and try hard to survive. You have some stuff to do yet for your country, state, family and people who worry about you, so never give up.
I don't know if I can say these things, but I think it's okay. I hope this letter will give you energy to come back.
- Arom Choi (George), English as a Second Language student, West Seattle High School
My family and I know that this is a very hard time for you and your family, but know that you are loved - even in South Tacoma.
- John, Sheryl, Jayme, Joshua Swafford, University Place
We will try to do our jobs as usual and reassure you that we will do our best. We, Filipino American Educators of Washington, wish you speedy recovery and cheerful regards to you and your family.
- Nolette Serra, President, F.A.E.W., Seattle
I am a two-time cancer patient, completing my last of 8 scheduled chemo treatments. I beat this once in 1985, at the age of 22 and now again at the age of 38.
I've gone through the highs and lows, but my positive attitude has always pulled me through the rough times. Having never met you I can only say how much I admire you for openly sharing your health situation with us. Because of you, more people will become bone marrow donors, but more importantly will become more educated about cancer.
Stay strong. Independence will return.
- Gerry Becker, Marysville
I have learned to "know you" from all that I have heard and read about you. You are a man with great passion, tremendous commitment, wonderful vision, and you posses a quality that far too many people lack today - real integrity. Not surprisingly, your first thoughts are about the children in your school district whom you have so much love and hope for.
The children and the community need you to get well, not only because of your wonderful leadership, but because we need you to continue the work you have started by building the vision of a bright future for all young people.
- David Peha, Renton
The '96/'97 Seattle Mariner fans chose "Refuse to Lose" as their slogan. Mr. Stanford, it's your turn to carry the Seattle tradition and Refuse to Lose!! God speed.
- Sue Beyer, Bothell
We want to update you on the headway we're making toward our independent reading goal of 50,000 nights. As of April 3, we have already documented 42,700 nights. By the time you have completed your treatment, we intend to be very close to our final goal. You will be the first to know when we reach it!
- Karen Ho'o, Sanislo Elementary School
(Editor's note: They're now at 48,446.)
I want to thank you for the positive spin on teaching you have given all us teachers. I want you to know how my love of teaching has returned because of your positive leadership and the emerging strength of leadership from the state of Washington that are bringing parents to see how important real learning is to their children.
I've been meaning to tell you for a long time how inspiring and warming your presence is. But now, you take care of only you - it's your time!
- Pat Turner, Mukilteo School District
If you need a blood donation, I'll donate as often as allowed. All the best.
- Jack Rollo, Seattle Schools principal, retired 1988
I'm a retired university registrar and I've worked with many retired military men. Mostly I found them inept in academia. I didn't hold out much hope for your administration, but you turned out to be a pleasant surprise. I'll read a child a book for you.
- Kris K. McClusky,
It is 4 a.m. and it is quiet; I feel alone, small, insignificant, and in pain. My back went out. An infrequent event, thank the Lord. But it hurts to sneeze, cough, or move. I try to focus, not on the pain, but on something positive, and you come to mind and I offer a prayer.
My daughter is in second grade, and although in a very good school, will have an opportunity for a better school placement next year because of you.
You have moved everyone off the old mark. The principals and the teachers and therefore the students and the parents are feeling (and being) more positive.
Thank you for helping us get there - in that better place.
I'm sure you will awake sometime at 4 a.m. feeling quiet and small. Please know that a prayer for your recovery is being offered.
- Mrs. Erickson, Seattle
As young people at the Peace Academy look for ways to increase the peace, they look for places to challenge our leaders to hear them and help them. Whenever they have spoken to you, they did not get the resistance they expected. Instead, they have found open ears and an open heart. There is no better inspiration than to be welcome to help with our greatest problems. Your open heart has increased the peace in this community. Now we pray the strength of your heart can heal your body.
- John Merner, Peace Academy director
I'm nearly 70 years old, have grandkids in the Seattle schools, 6 and 14. I tutor four children at Kimball Elementary School and am active in other pursuits.
Twenty-five years ago I lost a niece to leukemia. Today, thanks to hard-working scientists, we can beat it, and you will.
I used to teach and I have a small inkling of what you must contend with in your position.
I must tell you that:
I love how you're doing it;
I love what you do;
I love your compassion;
I love your emotionalism; and
I love your integrity.
We truly need you, and I'm positive you will return to us in good health.
- Shirley Roe, Seattle
I am writing to tell you how touched I am by your caring and love for your duties as a superintendent. The world needs a man who can unabashedly weep when he speaks as emotionally as you. Many people need to have such a remarkable person, as I know you are, to be in the position you are in (and to which I trust you will return as soon as possible), "the good Lord willing and the creek don't rise."
I am a stroke "victim," not feeling terribly victimized at the moment. I'm sitting in a wheelchair as I write, thanking God I'm left-handed and can write you this note. My lot is not important, it's bearable. All I can do is pray for you.
- Barbara A. Velente, Kirkland
I live in Bryan, Texas, but have watched your career via satellite TV with the utmost admiration.
I have no doubts that you will triumph over this illness and emerge stronger than ever. It is my heartfelt wish to watch this happen. Not only do the children of Seattle need your special type of leadership, but children all across this country need the opportunity to benefit from your example.
- Kay E. Randorff,
I have found, with a sense of humor and not borrowing trouble, life can be good.
I am 85 and have been through this twice. The first time in 1975, the second time 16 months ago. Weak, but the doctor says I am okay.
- Wilma Howell, Seattle
Your leadership and vision inspired people outside Seattle, too. I believe your quality work in Seattle will raise the standards in other school districts. Our children are going to benefit from your hard work and dedication.
- Don and Terri Snively, Everett
You are still "Perfect & Improving."
You can and will overcome this. We would like to help. Your reading "assignments" are enclosed. Thank you for your great sense of community while working to raise the standards.
- Gerald Sheppard, Seattle
(The writer enclosed a stack of magazines with this letter.)
Whether high or low, rich or poor, the entire community is better off for your efforts. Thank you for sharing yourself.
- Bill and Deryn Fulton, Snohomish
We have never met, Sir, but we share many similar experiences. I served in the military as an officer in the Marine Corps during the Vietnam era, and also spent six years in the Army Reserve. As an educator in Bellevue, I have watched your performance as the "new" Superintendent of Seattle Public Schools with a great deal of respect and admiration.
I must admit, Sir, I was very shocked and concerned to hear of your diagnosis, but I must say candidly that it did not surprise me, what with your high visibility and rigorous schedule. Ten years ago, I was 17 years into a career that was best exemplified by what we called in the "Corps" as "gung ho" or "Semper Fi:" pushing ahead, working long hours, always going above and beyond for the good of the kids and the program. And then one day, I was out running my usual 10 miles when a massive bruise appeared on the back of my right leg from mid-calf to mid-thigh.
Of course, you know where this scenario is leading. Within a few days, I was given a similar diagnosis to the one you got. I survived a bone marrow transplant; my son was the donor who gave me the gift of life.
I am a Native American (Ojibwe-Anishinaabe) and find it inappropriate at most times to share what wisdom I possess, if any.
But a statement you made that concerned me the most was the one which you said "This is not about me." I think I understood your intent, but please know that this event really is "about you," and you will need to garner all the tenacity and inner strength to deal with this situation that you can.
Gianami'aamin Gichi Manidoong gaye nimbiindaakoojige jidananaan-dawi'iweyan! (I will pray for you and offer tobacco to the Spirits so that you will heal.)
- Jim Starkey ('Mindjimendanan), Bellevue
Full House Sports & Entertainment and the Sonics want you to know that we deeply value the relationship we have built with you personally and the Seattle Public Schools in general. We believe our partnership is an example for the rest of the country and an example of the power of teamwork.
In the sports world there are many cliches but only a few words of wisdom. An aphorism which we believe fits in the latter category tells us that one never knows what she/he is made of until tested, that adversity shows our true colors.
In the basketball world, those tests come during the NBA playoffs. To go far, you must have support from everyone on the team.
In this time of adversity, we want you to know that we are here to support you. Specifically, we have taken your cue, namely to take this time to focus on the classroom. We have added additional emphasis to bring to life your vision of "every child a reader" by enhancing the Read to Succeed Challenge. We were able to work with the Washington State Lottery and The Alliance for Education to donate over $14,000 to the John Stanford Book Fund to benefit Seattle Public Schools libraries.
- John Dresel, president, Full House; Seth Finn, director community programs, Full House; and the entire Sonics basketball team
Dear General Stanford,
Beautiful thoughts for you today!
- Everybody, Aberdeen
My two son-in-laws are both teachers in Wenatchee. They are wonderful husbands and fathers.
You have caused me to view them with much more respect for the job they do . . . and how very important that job is.
You are a winner in every way.
- Vivian Henke,
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