Substitute teaching to ease the pain of cancer

Student-Teacher Krixia Funa

The week before Kristi Singley's kindergarten class had a trip to Fort Worth Zoo, she contacted student-teacher Krixia Funa. Singley's mother was found to have brain cancer and would be in surgery on April 21, the same time as the zoo trip, and Singley wanted Funa to lead the class alongside the district-approved substitute.

Funa was not scheduled to work with any class on the day of the trip, instead having a make-up day to balance a sick day she had earlier in the semester. She had worked with the class and the children knew her, but she had never been in charge of a field trip before. She accepted without hesitation.

"Ms. Funa was really one of the biggest blessings I could have ever asked for during this whole process," said Singley.

During the day, Funa sent texts with updates on the trip to Singley, which Singley said helped ease her anxiety at the hospital. Absent from those messages was mention of the stress at managing the class. Singley had made all the preparations and wrote thorough notes for the trip. However, details such as the plans for carrying 20 kindergartener lunches slipped through the cracks and were dealt with as they came up.

"It was mass chaos getting into the zoo. But once we were through those doors, it was perfectly fine," Funa said, later adding that she didn't expect anything less from a last-minute decision.

After the trip was over, Funa offered to be a substitute for the class whenever needed. She often substitutes at the school, Dove Elementary, which allows Singley more freedom with scheduling and caring for her mother.

The brain surgery finished with 90 percent of the tumor being removed. Singley's mother has moved closer to the area, and their family is currently looking at options to handle the remaining parts of the tumor.

Funa graduated in spring from the UNT College of Education with a bachelor's degree in Interdisciplinary Studies.  


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By Jessie Laljer, UNT's College of Education Development and External Relations Office
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