Rachel McCabe knows what patients are going through because she went through it herself. That is why she is the perfect person to help children stay focused on school while they are in the hospital.
Rachel is the new Golisano Children’s Hospital school teacher, a position funded by Suncoast Credit Union. The hospital school program has been offered since 2005 to patients up to age 18 so they do not fall behind in school during treatment. The teacher works with parents and the school districts to manage assignments and keep students on track.
There is even a classroom at the hospital where children who are well enough can interact with the teacher and other students.
Hospital School Teacher as Patient
When Rachel was 3 years old, she was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) at HealthPark Medical Center. She was treated by Dr. Emad Salman and his staff from 1997-2000. Her child life specialist was Michele King, who is now her boss and the director of child advocacy.
Rachel remembers how hard the transition was from hospital life to the real world. She remembers the hardship of making friends her own age and struggling to keep up with her peers. At the time of Rachel’s treatment there was not a hospital-based teacher to help guide her. While her parents prepared her for kindergarten, the late effects of chemotherapy hit her in third grade. She had a tough time expressing herself and remembering. Her family and the hospital worked together to create a plan to help her get the assistance she needed.
During her treatment, Rachel was deeply affected by the caring and compassionate staff and knew she wanted to help children. When she graduated high school in 2012, she went to the University of South Florida in Clearwater. With a degree in education, she began her career as a hospital homebound teacher in Clearwater and later moved to Missouri where she was a sixth grade English teacher. When she moved back to Cape Coral and learned the position was open, she knew it would be the perfect fit.
Now she hopes to take the lessons she has learned from her own experience as well as her background in education to help children admitted to Golisano Children’s Hospital.
Cancer-free for 20 years this summer, she is a walking reminder that there is hope for patients and families.
Interested in learning how you can support the child advocacy program, including the teacher program? Learn more.