By the culmination of the 2012-2013 school year Steinbrenner physics teacher James Liberatore knew there was something wrong. Waking up just as exhausted as he’d been going to sleep the night beforehand and even more so by the end of a demanding day of teaching, it wasn’t long before Liberatore wanted answers. By October of 2013, his symptoms had escalated to the point where even walking up a flight of stairs was simply too much for his body to handle.
“I did not know it then, but I had already been bleeding for some time into my small intestine on account of a tumor that breeched my intestinal wall. It was a slow bleed so my body compensated and I never passed out despite the critically low level of the hemoglobin in my blood. I simply kept on with my day to day life,” said Liberatore.
After countless procedures and a slew of diagnostic tests, come December, Liberatore found himself in the doctor’s office yet again, desperate to uncover the truth behind his bizarre symptoms. At last, a diagnosis was reached.
“It was determined by my doctors that the tumor needed to be removed immediately. The tumor was removed on Dec. 23. Thank you, God,” said Liberatore.
While the complications of his absence left students without an instructor, fellow physics teachers quickly stepped in to handle the situation. In Liberatore’s absence, both Stephen Messina and Jaqueline Eisenhauer not only assisted in preparing students for the midterm exam by taking on additional kids but also made sure they remained up to speed with the neighboring physics classes.
“As soon as Mr. Liberatore took the leave of absence it wasn’t until the next day, but the day after that Mr. Messina and I went in,” said Eisenhauer.
Despite their fast response to the issue, the biggest concern was finding time to help the students. At first, Messina and Eisenhauer were able to assist struggling students during their planning periods or whenever they had the opportunity to help, however, leaving behind those remaining kids whom they couldn’t reach posed a serious problem. Nevertheless, Messina and Eisenhauer found a solution by combining or splitting up Liberatore’s students with their own classes.
“It’s a little different seeing 50 kids in a classroom compared to the normal 25, but once you get past that it’s really not that much different,” said Messina.
Messina tackled the obstacle of seating arrangements by compiling additional desks, combining them with pre-existing ones to allow for the numerous new students.
“It helps us to have teachers that will help us along and help us to keep up with the rest of the classes,” said junior Josh Perez.
While Liberatore may not be physically capable of being present for his students, through the generous assistance of his colleagues and replacement teacher, Nicholas Hutchinson, he’s able to ensure his remaining classes receive the proper instruction to excel in their studies.
Hannah Crosby/News Editor