Bishop remembered for caring, giving ways
By ANGIE HAFLICH
Bubbly, outgoing, and a lot of fun — these are just some of the words that people close to Casey Bishop use to describe her.
"She never met a stranger. She had that personality. She just drew people to her," Debbie Holt, a second-grade teacher at Victor Ornelas Elementary School, said Wednesday.
Bishop, who was also a second-grade teacher at Victor Ornelas, died on Oct. 2 at St. Mary's Hospital in Rochester, Minn., at the age of 28, after battling tumefactive multiple sclerosis since August.
Her family held memorial services for her on Monday in her hometown of Stewartville, Minn., and at 7 tonight, a Celebration of Life service is being held at the Church of the Nazarene for Bishop's Garden City friends and colleagues.
Bishop began teaching at Victor Ornelas in 2007. In 2009, she was diagnosed with acute promyelocytic leukemia, a cancer of the blood and bone marrow for which she received chemotherapy treatments until October 2011. While there was a possibility that the cancer could return at some point, Bishop began the 2013-14 school year with a clean bill of health. But a day and a half after school started, she began getting severe headaches and within a few days, was back in Minnesota, being treated for tumefactive multiple sclerosis.
Tammy Ueke, Jamie Terry and Holt are all second-grade teachers at Victor Ornelas who, along with Bishop, developed an extremely tight bond working together over the years.
"We started the same year here, so she called me her 'work mom' and I called her my 'work daughter.' We just had a connection from day one," Holt said. "She'd come by on weekends, and she'd try new recipes for cupcakes and drop them by and wanted to see how they tasted, just things like that. She was just always very caring."
Holt said Bishop's caring, loving spirit carried over into the classroom, as well.
"Casey was very dedicated to the job. Her kids came first. She loved her children. She just put so much of her heart into her whole classroom, and it was just a fun place because she believed kids could learn if they enjoyed the day, and so she really just — her spirit — she just brought in that love and laughter to her kids and her kids knew that she absolutely loved them," she said.
Bishop pushed her students, as well, Terry said.
"She set the bar high for her students. She had really high standards. She really stretched her kids. She didn't allow them to be lazy. She always told them they could learn, that they were going to learn as much as they could," Terry said.
Ueke, who is also from Minnesota, said that because of their shared roots, she and Bishop became instant friends.
"We did a lot of traveling on the weekends. We went different places. We went to the caves in Oklahoma. We traveled to Topeka, Tanganyika wild park, Wichita — we've done a lot of different travels," Ueke said, adding that the two also loved the same books, movies and cheering their favorite football team, the Minnesota Vikings.
She said that Bishop's favorite color was purple, and at tonight's Celebration of Life service, the women plan to be decked out in purple T-shirts that say "Team Bishop."
Heath Hogan, principal at Victor Ornelas, said Bishop had a good work ethic.
"Casey was great. She was very passionate about teaching," Hogan said. "She was always positive and really good with the kids. She knew her kids really well."
On Monday night, USD 457 Superintendent Rick Atha shared the news of Bishop's passing at the school board meeting.
"We have over 1,200 employees that work for Garden City public schools. Most of those employees are dedicated to our kids. They try to make a difference. We lost one of our employees this last week. We lost a teacher. Her name was Casey Bishop, a second-grade teacher," Atha said. "I would hope you would keep her and her family, her friends, her kids in your thoughts and prayers. She will be missed."