PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. — A Palm Beach Gardens high school teacher who needed to ask for sick time twice over the last year -- once to fight cancer and the other to recover from a heart attack -- is finally going back into the classroom next week.
Music, as Robert Goodman would say, is how he communes with the universe. He’s played it his whole life. It’s that spiritualness helped guide him through a cancer battle, a heart attack, and love.
“I learned a great lesson that you should never be afraid to ask for help. Help is that other component of love,” Robert told us in an exclusive interview in his West Palm Beach home.
Fellow teachers, like Dawn McKeich, didn’t even know Robert before he asked for donated sick time.
She donated twice.
“We just learn how much teachers work together and how we have to help each other out,” she said in an interview. She teaches kindergarten at Timber Trace Elementary, also in Palm Beach Gardens.
“Without the help I received, I would have lost everything I ever worked for in my life,” Robert said.
Robert’s last day in the classroom was April 17 last year. He had enough sick days donated to get him to a place physically, where he can return next week.
Life in that time sped up but also slowed down. He was closer to death than he’s ever been, but he focused more on making each day meaningful.
“We only live now. This is our moment. This second right now, we’re sharing our lives right now and when you’re doing that you need to be mindful of it to really be present in it in order to experience what you need to experience, otherwise, what’s the point?” he told us.
He’s nervous to get back into the classroom, but he also realized in this journey, his students really never stopped learning from him.
“Kids are like trees without fruit and we may never see the fruit the fruit that bears from these children, but I know based on how many people have reached out to me, that there’s a lot of fruit out there that’s doing some good things,” he said.
During our exclusive interview, Robert wearing blue, that’s for colon cancer awareness. He will continue to share his story in hopes more people get colonoscopies. He will also continue to play his music and push for universal healthcare.
On Monday next week, Robert will be back in his classroom, No. 4308. That’s a teacher workday. On Tuesday, his students are back, and he will be teaching world history.