When Robert Goodman, a 10th-grade teacher from Palm Beach Gardens High School, ran out of sick leaves while undergoing surgery for colon cancer, he didn’t know how what he would do.
Luckily, the 56-year-old had a great support system in place—coworkers at the school who agreed to donate their remaining sick days.
Goodman, who lives in West Palm Beach, already missed 31 consecutive days of school for the operation. But with 6 more months of chemotherapy ahead of him, he was at a loss on how to juggle work and treatment.
So he went on Facebook, and asked his fellow teachers if they had any leftover sick days they could offer.
And the response was quick and overwhelming.
Educators from different parts of Florida reached out to Goodman to donate. Teachers, staff members, administrators and even professors from Florida Atlantic University, all chipped in to help.
In the span of four days, he received enough sick days to get him through one whole semester’s worth of absences.
“The reaction was absolutely incredible,” Goodman said. “I was surprised by the volume of outreach, but I wasn’t surprised that teachers were giving. Because that’s what teachers do, we give.”
Goodman has been a teacher for more than 25 years, and spent 23 of those at Palm Beach Gardens High.
Dawn McKeich, a teacher at Timber Trace Elementary School in Palm Beach Gardens, said, “I wanted to donate because I was really sick three years ago and my fellow teachers stepped up to the plate to help with my classroom and my own children at home. I wanted to pay it forward.”
According to a spokeswoman for the school district, 75 days had been donated in total. Now, Goodman is qualified for catastrophic leave.
“I was hesitant to reach out for help at first, because there are a lot of people doing far worse than I am,” Goodman said.