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Chandler teacher with brain tumor wins Gaydos and Chad’s teacher tribute

(Janine Hernandez Photo)

PHOENIX — A Chandler Unified School District teacher who survived a brain tumor has been chosen for KTAR News Gaydos and Chad’s Pay Tribute to a Teacher award for the month of December.

Janine Hernandez, a seventh- and eighth-grade math teacher at Camille Casteel High School in Queen Creek, will receive $2,500 presented by Your Valley Toyota Dealers for putting her students’ success at the forefront of her priorities, including her own health.

Hernandez was in a “minor fender bender” in June 2019 and started experiencing tooth pain due to the whiplash from the car accident.

After the pain lingered, her specialist told her to see a neurologist, who recommended getting an MRI to see if there was any nerve damage.

Following an MRI, it was revealed that Hernandez had a brain tumor that had nothing to do with the tooth pain.

But despite being in the ER waiting room for four to five hours, Hernandez wasted no time doing what she loves most: being a teacher.

In fact, she had her husband bring her laptop to the hospital because he was not able to physically come inside the ICU due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Hernandez would continue inputting grades and responding to both parents and students via email — all of which she did up until it was time for her craniotomy.

Hernandez is already back in the virtual classroom and says the only difference is that she sometimes gets tongue-tied, which her students respond to with, “We got you Mrs. Hernandez — brain surgery.”

Hernandez and her husband had to raid savings set aside for a vacation to pay the pile of hospital bills, so they know what they’ll do with the prize money.

“I think we’re going to put it back into a vacation fund so I can reconnect with family and just enjoy ourselves,” she said.

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