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Community Mourns Teacher Who Died Tuesday, Days After She Was Diagnosed With Leukemia

Students, teachers and parents called Heidi Kreger a selfless teacher with a big heart, who had an amazing ability to help kids.

Heidi Kreger, a second grade teacher at Evergreen Elementary, died Tuesday, just nine days after she was diagnosed with Leukemia. She was 40.

Kreger, who was just married last year, has been with the Cotati-Rohnert Park School District for 16 years, most recently at Evergreen. She also taught at Goldridge Elementary until it closed.

Teachers and students were shocked Tuesday when they heard the tragic news — her condition was not expected to be life threatening. Kreger’s friends and colleagues said doctors quoted a 95 percent cure rate. Things were looking up. She started a chemotherapy regimen days after she found out she had blood cancer, and was planning to return to work this week. But, Kreger’s health condition took a turn for the worse early Tuesday morning; she passed away later that afternoon.

Teachers, parents and students Wednesday grew more distraught as word spread. At Evergreen, teachers spent most of the day counseling and consoling students, who later put up an ad hoc memorial for Kreger. They wrote messages and memories for the teacher that they said loved the kids more than anything, and pasted them outside on the school’s wall.

“We will miss you, you’re still part of the Evergreen family,” wrote one student.

“I feel so sad, I miss you Mrs. Kreger,” wrote another. 

“She was a beloved teacher and friend, and her loss affects our entire community,” wrote Principal Gaylene Rosaschi in a letter that was sent home with the kids. “I want you to know that you can come and talk to me if you’re feeling sad or if you want to talk about her.” 

“She was a very kind person, and a compassionate, supportive teacher,” said Sara Crouthers, a parent whose daughter Alana was in Kreger’s class. “She once told me something I’ll never forget, she said ‘I don’t have any children of my own, so these kids are like my children.’" 

“You measure the strength of community when tragedy strikes, and where the rubber meets the road, this district is rich,” said Susan Adams, a Rohnert Park resident who also has kids in the district.

“The principal and administrators came into the classroom this morning, and they cried right with the kids, it was amazing,” Adams said.

Tech High Principal Adam Littlefield was the principal at Goldridge when Kreger worked there.

“She was a wonderful lady; the had a tremendous ability to help others and a huge heart,” Littlefield said.

Even in her ailing condition, up until she passed, Kreger worried about her students, friends said.

“She was like a mother hen, she took care of those kids and always had a smile on her face. She will be missed,” Littlefield said.

Editor's note: There will be a candlelight vigil for Heidi Tatum Kreger tonight —Thursday, May 12 at Evergreen Elementary at 7 p.m.

Julie McIntyre May 12, 2011 at 08:40 PM
Heidi always gave all her kids a big hug when the day was over. Even kids who had her that are in their mid-20's now remember the hugs. What a beautiful shining soul she had : )
Angela Hart May 12, 2011 at 08:45 PM
That is amazing Julie. I wish I'd met her.
Valerie Johnson May 12, 2011 at 08:46 PM
Ms Kreger was a teacher to both of my boys. My son Spencer is currently in her class and we had a daily log that we would write to eachother about Spencer. She always showed so much concern and love for both of my boys (who can be quite the handful). I always teased her about teaching my daughter when she got to Evergreen. I didn't feel negative anything from Heidi just love and compassion. She always had a warm smile. My older son brought me a little red heart shaped stone that he had stashed away in his treasure box. He told me Mrs. Kreger has given everyone in his class one on their last day together two years ago. He has been holding on to it all this time. Our family will truly miss Heidi Kreger.
Angela Hart May 12, 2011 at 08:49 PM
Wow Valerie.
Danielle chamberlain May 12, 2011 at 10:15 PM
Mrs Kreger was my sons teacher. She was an amazing woman! Since we got the call Tuesday night we can only think of her new husband, how he is coping with this. Though we have never met him, he is in my constant prayers and thoughts. We are not qute sure how our son is really grasping this, but when we walked him into class yesterday the sadness was overwhelming. I instantly felt tears run down my face, specifically i remember two little girls coming into class walking to their desks hysterically crying. She was not just a teacher to these kids but we like to call her their day time mom. We may never meet another teacher as caring as she was. Through every triump every problem our son had she was there to conqure it with him. Our loss is great and she will be truly missed!
Charlie Austin May 13, 2011 at 12:38 AM
I had Ms. Tatum (Kreger) as a teacher for both 4th and 5th grade when I went to Gold Ridge. I am now 20 years old and in college but always remembered Ms. Tatum as my favorite teacher at Gold Ridge. She always had a smile on her face and had such a big heart. She would even come to my house after school to tutor me in math. That's how giving and supportive she was. It is very sad and shocking that she is no longer with us but the memories I have of her and my years at Gold Ridge will be everlasting. Thank you for being such an inspirational teacher and friend.
Matthew Rogers May 13, 2011 at 01:54 AM
While I never had Ms. Tatum as a teacher, I have very fond memories of her. She was one of the few teachers I kept in touch with well after Goldridge, even though I did not have her (my brother did). Me and a few friends would occasionally go back and visit Goldridge, and eventually we always ended up on her couch, catching up with her, sharing stories, and laughing. She always had time for us 10+ years later, as we were still some of her 400+ sons. It was an honor to grow up around you Ms. Tatum, you were one of the most beautiful people I have, and ever will, meet.
Angie P May 13, 2011 at 04:33 AM
2 months ago Heidi overheard my daughter talk about a book that she could not find in the school library... that following morning she called me over and told me that "Taylor was looking for this book in the Library, but I found one over at Borders she can take this home and read it and have her return it to me when she's done"... This is who Heidi was FOREVER CARING *************WE WILL MISS YOU SO MUCH MY RAIDER FRIEND. As you would always say to the lil' ones, "use your words" and my word for you my friend is 'THANK YOU' Angie Proctor & Family
Rita Taylor May 14, 2011 at 03:38 AM
Heidi was my daughter's 2nd grade teacher last school year and remains her favorite teacher. It was my pleasure to be able to help in the classroom and out. I cannot say enough good things about Heidi. One thing that really pulled my heartstrings was Christmas Eve 2009. I was tired and feeling a little down from being away from my family back east. The doorbell rang, and there was Heidi standing there with a plate of homemade fudge. I had no idea she knew where I lived. She took the time out of a busy holiday to show her appreciation. I was so deeply touched I almost cried. She lifted my spirits without even knowing. I will miss you, Heidi! You are a kindred spirit that will always remain in my heart . Your friend forever, Rita Taylor
linda May 14, 2011 at 12:49 PM
While my daughters did not have the pleasure of having Heidi for a teacher during their time at Gold Ridge, she always gave them a friendly "hello" and a warm smile. I can still see that beautiful smile and I will miss that beautiful smile. Rest in Peace Heidi. Linda Torres

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