By Tanner Kent
Free Press Staff Writer
For the last two weeks of the school year, Kathi Cliff’s kindergartners prayed their usual three times a day.
But in the absence of their beloved teacher — a surprise cancer diagnosis forced Cliff from the classroom in mid May — those little Mankato Loyola students would conclude their usual prayers somewhat unusually:
“And please bless Mrs. Cliff,” they would say in unison.
Since 1976, Cliff has taught kindergarten at Loyola (save for one two-year hiatus in which she taught first grade). She helped pioneer the school system’s change to all-day kindergarten in 1992, making Loyola one of the region’s first schools — public or private — to adopt the now popular all-day format.
In April, however, Cliff was told she had developed lung cancer. The cancer is treatable, but only through regular doses of radiation and chemotherapy at the Andreas Cancer Center, located on the campus of the Mayo Clinic Health System in Mankato.
The treatments, of course, are not pleasant and are far from finished. And those who know her weren’t content to let Cliff fight that battle alone.
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