Teacher inspires students, staff with positive attitude amid tragic loss



CLEVELAND — Throughout the month of September, News 5 is pledging to feature a teacher going above and beyond for their students.

Last month, we received dozens of submissions of worthy teachers deserving of a back-to-school surprise. After teaming up with Meijer to take one local educator on a back-to-school shopping spree, they’re keeping the kindness going by continuing to give back to instructors across Northeast Ohio.

Teachers are passionate about what they do and devoted to the students that they teach. But sometimes, learning extends beyond the classroom, and life teaches you some of the toughest lessons.

For Ryan Albright, a physical education teacher at Campus International School in Cleveland, a lesson he learned early from his mother in life is making its rounds again.

“My mother always said, ‘just love.” And so that’s what I just want everyone to do, is just love,” Albright said.

Albright has been teaching at Campus International since the school opened in 2010. Every morning, you can find him greeting students as they get off the bus and exchanging jokes as they eat their breakfast.

“It’s the best school in the world to me,” Albright said. “The kids are the greatest. It’s just a magical place.”

But Campus International isn’t just a place to teach. For Mr. Albright it’s more like a place of refuge, providing an outlet to help channel the grief from losing his 11-year-old son, Luke.

“My son had a six-year battle with neuroblastoma, and it came to an end on June 17 of this year,” he said.

Luke was diagnosed when he was just three years old. Losing a child is a tragedy that no parent can ever be prepared for, and the heartbreak can be overwhelming.

“It was awful,” Albright said.

However, his students helped him heal and Campus International became a place for him to continue to spread the lesson his mother taught him as a child: just love.

“They’re an extension of my children, these fourth graders. So when I see them, I see my children,” Albright said. “And I know the way that I would want them be treated in school.”

Through the unimaginable tragedy, Albright showed up to work every day with a smile on his face, providing an inspiration for the staff and students.

“I think when you go to that place where you want to complain about the small stuff, you think about Mr. Albright,” Principal Julie Beers said. “I think it is especially admirable that he’s teaching kids the exact age that Luke is. Just to come to school every day and look at the faces of the students who are his son’s age and still give it your all, I just think it’s incredible.”

Mr. Albright’s “just love” lesson is proof that what you send out in life has a way of finding its way back. The fourth grade PE class begins their day with some stretching and a new activity, but not before showering their favorite teacher with chants and songs.

“They keep my day busy. My mind is busy. I love the hugs that I get. I love the ‘we love you Mr. Albright’ I still get the ‘how’s your son doing Mr. Albright?’ Which I still love also, because he’s doing great right now,” he said.

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