Teacher battling cancer receives special caroling surprise from former students

Fred Fisher hopes to return to classroom soon

SAN ANTONIO – A beloved teacher battling cancer got a shot of Christmas cheer from former students on Christmas Eve.

The students, now years removed from Fred Fisher's second-grade class at Northwood Elementary, gathered with other students and parents at the end of Fisher's driveway to surprise him with Christmas carols.

"He's been such an inspiration to all of us, and it was our turn to give something back to him," said Reyna Stovall, 14, a former student who came up with the idea.

Fisher, who retired in 2011 but continued to teach as a substitute teacher, is beloved by his former students.

"This is the hardest job I've ever had, and I've been shot at," said Fisher, who served in the Air Force. "But it's the only job I've ever loved."

A battle with colon cancer, however, has kept him out of the classroom, as the chemotherapy treatments he started last year have lowered his immune system. But it didn't stop his former students from showing up to support him, just like he has supported them over the years.

"He's been very inspirational, and, like, he always is showing up to all of our events and stuff," said former student Lyle Bartells. "I'm a junior in high school now, and I’m still seeing him come show support at our swim meets and stuff."

Fisher grinned through the surprise caroling concert and snapped right back into teacher mode afterward, asking former students about their current grades and doling out advice.

To see this display, he said, "just validates what you're doing in the classroom."

"You couldn't have wrapped up a better gift for me," Fisher said. "If you had said 'I'm done with chemo now,' that wouldn't have been nearly the impact that this was. Yeah, so this will make the last few sessions go a lot faster.

Fisher said he hopes to return to substitute teaching at Northwood Elementary School in the near future.

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