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Originally published Monday, December 29, 2008 at 12:00 AM

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Dad subs for teacher fighting cancer

The job of a substitute teacher is often thankless. But Melissa Klumph, a math teacher at Sweet Home High School, is especially grateful to the man covering her classes as she battles breast cancer. Her dad.

SWEET HOME, Ore. — The job of a substitute teacher is often thankless. But Melissa Klumph, a math teacher at Sweet Home High School, is especially grateful to the man covering her classes as she battles breast cancer.

Her dad.

Terrence Sime, 58, taught math for more than 20 years. He's retired but ended up back in the classroom after his daughter was diagnosed.

Chemotherapy has cost Klumph 23 days of work since school began in September. Each time, her father has stepped in and handed over his pay to cover her unpaid leave.

"I had to get out all the old neurons, but they showed up, thank God, and fired up right away," he said.

Klumph's mother, Christine, cares for sons Max, 2 ½, and Cannon, 10 months, so Melissa can rest. After school, father and daughter discuss everything going on in class.

"It's nice for me, because I still have a lot to learn," Klumph said.

Sime shakes off his daughter's self-deprecation: "I'm just the sub," he said. "She is such a good teacher. I watched her teach one day."

Klumph, 31, and her husband, Brent, had Cannon in January. The birth used up most of her sick leave, and she didn't expect to need any more.

But this summer, she found a lump in her breast, a fast-growing tumor.

Her mother-in-law, also a math teacher, was discussing the problem with Sime during a family gathering. It was their idea for Sime to sub.

Sime said the arrangement has made it possible for Klumph's algebra and geometry classes to keep progressing.

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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