Welcome back, Ms. Matthews!

One year cancer free, Ms. Matthews returns to in person teaching.



Ms. Matthews still smiling as she returns to our school after fighting a tough battle.

Beatrice Sta. Ana, News Editor

As we start the new school year we welcome new students and fresh faces, but this year we welcome back a familiar face, a former teacher here at Rancho that has come back to grace us with her presence: Ms. Matthews! Well, some of you might know her as Ms. Grady, but because of a recent divorce she now goes by her maiden name.

Just like the rest of us, Ms. Matthews left campus in March of 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 lockdown. Though when all the teachers came back in September of 2021, she stayed teaching online. This is because in April of 2021 she was diagnosed with cancer; this is what she had to say about her battle against cancer while also continuing to work as a teacher in the virtual schooling world. 

She taught sixth grade in the City of Angels in what was called “Virtual Academies,” she has been a teacher for 17 years now going on her 18th but as we all know, teaching online could be very different.

“I was a middle school teacher forever, so I knew the ins and outs of that and it wasn’t bad. It’s different than teaching in person in that it’s hard to make a connection with students online,” Ms. Matthews explains. “Teaching online was fun when it was good, there were a couple of days that weren’t so good, but that’s ok I got through it.” 

She decided to carry on teaching despite the difficulties of going through chemotherapy treatments, and she says it was better for her that way. 

“There’s nothing better than trying to tackle working while you’re not feeling good, some type of normalcy is better than not. In addition, it’s better to have me continue to work, I still got a paycheck. Nonetheless I think it was very good for me to continue to work in that capacity. It worked for me.” 

Ms. Matthews is now back on campus and she is nearing her first year of being cancer free. She is still experiencing some side effects of chemotherapy so needless to say she was anxious about coming back. 

“I was so nervous and worried, like ‘things are gonna be different!’ There’s this thing called chemo brain, like I don’t think of words quite as fast, it’s a real thing. I’m getting over that but I still haven’t been 100% on my game, you know what it would be like if you had one leg shorter than the other and you’re not really in step? So I don’t really feel like I’m totally in step yet, but I feel like I’m getting there.”

In spite of that nervousness, Ms. Matthews loves seeing her old students now that she has her new look and it comes as a pleasant surprise to them. 

“I have a totally different look and some of them don’t even recognize me and then they’ll talk to me. And then they’ll be like ‘Oh my God! That’s you! Ms. Grady!’ And I’m like, ‘Yes yes!’ So it’s fun. I always appreciate it when my old students come back to say hello. That’s what being a teacher is all about. I don’t know how many lives I actually touch. You don’t do it for that but that’s what makes it worth it, when you find out that somebody remembers you.”

A couple of her old students reflect on what it was like having Ms. Matthews as their teacher. 

Fatima Ruiz, senior and former student of Ms. Matthews for all three years of middle school and freshman year talks about how her personality is as a teacher. 

“I loved her as a teacher. She’s a lot of fun and she really cares about her students, she really wants to make sure that you’re ok—she wants to hear about your day, she really loves us. I feel like she’s a little more strict but, I guess a different class requires a different teaching style, so for the most part she’s pretty much the same.”

Zen Brayboy, junior, had Ms. Matthews freshman year while class was still being conducted online. 

“Honestly she was a good influence and just a good person in general. There would be some days that the class would be interesting but as a teacher in general she’s just very informative, and she pushed us to do our best when writing. And she helped us with formatting and everything that you need to be good at English, her class was fun. I didn’t know she was going to come back so I was surprised, I was like, ‘Oh my God, Ms. Grady!’ She has been through trials and tribulations but we love her.”

As Brayboy put it, Ms. Matthews has been through many trials and tribulations getting back to campus. Regardless, it is better late than never, so let’s give a warm welcome back to Ms. Matthews for persevering through those tough times and coming back to teach here.