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Rogers students, staff remember slain teacher

Fri., April 17, 2009, 5:50 p.m.

The late Terri Kim told her colleagues at Rogers High School she chose to look at life through rose-colored glasses.

She found the good in everyone, and gave to those around her without question.

“She was a woman who lived her faith,” said Suzi Shepard, one of Kim’s friends and fellow math teacher at the northeast Spokane high school. “She was very forgiving of others, because she knew she was fallible and accepted that.”

If Kim — brutally murdered by her son — were alive today she wouldn’t need tinted glasses to see how wonderful the world can be. She would see the good-will she imparted on her many students and friends is a reality.

“She taught us service before self,” said Rogers student Nhung Tran, 17.

Students and staff will be collecting goods and monetary donations today for the Vanessa Behan Crisis Nursery, on behalf of the Terri Kim Community Benefit.

The event, in its third year, memorializes the teacher who was killed, along with her husband, Richard Kim, at the family’s Mount Spokane home in December 2006.

In 2008, Bryan Kim, was sentenced to life in prison for the murder of his parents.

Terri Kim’s absence left a gaping hole in the Rogers community, known to be a tight-knit group largely connected by socioeconomic circumstances. About 70 percent of the students at Rogers qualify for free- or reduced-price meals, often used as an indicator of poverty. Students often lack access to the basics, like quality medical care, food and clothing.

“We are family, that’s what Rogers is,” Shepard said. “We take care of each other. That’s just what we do here.”

Kim embodied that spirit, and was known for helping her students in any way she could, including providing them with shoes if they needed them.

Student Kelsey Hadley, 17, said Kim helped her “like math again,” and would often stay hours after school to help her.

“Then when it was dark she would offer to give me a ride home,” Hadley said.

Hadley, along with her fellow students in the Air Force JROTC unit at Rogers, is one of many students helping to organize Saturday’s benefit.

“By doing this people will remember her,” Hadley said.

Her colleagues and students said they didn’t even know the extent of Kim’s generosity until after her death.

“She didn’t tell people the things she was doing, she didn’t want any recognition,” Shepard said.

In 2007 the school rallied together and created the benefit, to keep her memory and her gift of service alive. Last year the school raised $3,000 for the Union Gospel Mission.

“She was an overall amazing person,” said Brandon Morris, 17. Morris was one of Kim’s math students as a freshman, and joined Interact, a community-service oriented club at Rogers advised by Kim, and sponsored through the Hillyard Rotary.

“She taught us a lot of life lessons in her class,” Morris said.

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