SWEET HOME - The job of a substitute teacher is often a thankless one. But Melissa Klumph, a math teacher at Sweet Home High School, is especially grateful to the man who has been covering her classes as she battles breast cancer.
Terrence Sime, 58, taught math for more than 20 years at Crook County High School in Prineville. He retired three years ago, but ended up back in the classroom after his daughter was diagnosed in July.
Chemotherapy has cost Klumph 23 days of work since school began in September. Each time, her father has stepped in - and handed over his pay to cover her unpaid leave.
"I had to get out all the old neurons, but they showed up, thank God, and fired up right away," he told the Albany Democrat-Herald.
Klumph's parents stay at her place in Sweet Home on chemotherapy weeks.
Klumph's mother, Christine, cares for sons Max, 2 1/2, and Cannon, 10 months, so Melissa can rest. After school, father and daughter discuss everything going on in class.
"That makes things much easier," Klumph said. "And it's nice for me, because I still have a lot to learn."
Sime shakes off his daughter's self-deprecation: "I'm just the sub," he said. "She is such a good teacher. I watched her teach one day. I just try to do as good a job as I can."
Klumph, 31, and her husband, Brent, had Cannon in January. The birth used up most of her sick leave, and she didn't expect to need any more.
But this past summer, she found a lump in her breast. The tumor was 4 1/2 centimeters and growing fast. She opted for a bilateral mastectomy, with reconstructive surgery, chemotherapy and radiation.
Her mother-in-law, also a math teacher, was discussing the problem with Sime during a family gathering. The two came up with the idea for Sime to sub.
"Dad said, 'What If I taught for you?'" Klumph recalled. "I said, 'I don't think you want to do that. You really like retirement.'"
But dad returned. Sime said the father-daughter partnership has made it possible for the students in Klumph's algebra and geometry classes to avoid treading water for a day or two as they might with a typical substitute.
Klumph's last chemotherapy treatment will be during the winter break, and she doesn't expect radiation to keep her away from school.