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Arlington teacher gets benefit to cover cancer treatment

Tom Ingalls -
Tom Ingalls
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ARLINGTON Tom Ingalls, a kindergarten teacher at Pioneer Elementary who was one of seven teachers in the Arlington School District nominated for the 2006 Disney Teacher of the Year Award, has been diagnosed with thyroid cancer, and those who know Ingalls hope the community will show its support for him Oct. 6.
Pioneer Elementary will be staging an open house-style spaghetti benefit dinner for Ingalls, from 5-8 p.m., Oct. 6, with tickets available at a cost of $10 per person at the door, to raise funds to offset the considerable expenses associated with his cancer treatments.
According to Nicole Nelson, one of the Pioneer Elementary Parent Teacher Student Association members whos found herself faced with the prospect of organizing such an event on relatively short notice, we werent even sure what was going on with him for the first couple of weeks of the school year, until they heard the news.
For Nelson and other Arlington School District parents whose children were taught by Ingalls, word of his condition came as a shock because everybody loves him. He knows the names and personally cares for all of his kids, and gives them hugs and high-fives.
Although Nelson reported that his spirits are up, especially as his students prepare pictures, videos and e-mails to send him, he noted that its been hard for his wife, an architect, to maintain both their mortgage in Bellingham and an apartment near the Seattle Cancer Treatment Center, where her husband is staying.
Ingalls 14-year career as an educator, all of which has been in the Arlington School District, began when he was downsized from his job as a data systems programmer for the phone company, but his desire to teach was sparked much earlier, by a fourth-grade teacher whom he only knew as Mrs. Jacoby. As a student who visited the principals office quite a bit, Ingalls warmed quickly to Jacobys encouragement of creativity and self-expression.
There are formulas for writing, said Ingalls, who described himself as already being tired of the corporate world by the time he was laid off. You only have to watch TV a short while to see all the formulas in the writing of most shows. But formulas are boring and formulas arent creativity. I want my students to invest their thought processes in the paths that havent been taken yet.
Ingalls also emphasizes imprinting good behavior in his students by making sure he tells them, every day, to treat people nicely, practice what theyve learned and know that I love them, because just in case something happens to me and I dont see them again, I want them all to feel loved someplace, even if its outside their homes. Weve all been teachers since we were born. My kids have always taught me, just like Ive been teaching my parents since I was a kid.

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