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Benefit honors slain Rogers teacher

Her former students will collect donations today for Vanessa Behan Crisis Nursery

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, they say, 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 a 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, who was murdered by her mentally ill son, were alive today, she wouldn’t need tinted glasses to see that the goodwill she imparted to her students and friends continues.

“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 with her husband, Richard Kim, a respiratory therapist supervisor, at the family’s Mount Spokane home in December 2006.

Bryan Kim was sentenced in 2008 to life in prison for his parents’ murders.

Terri Kim’s absence left a hole in the Rogers community, 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 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 was known for helping 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 often stayed hours after school to help her. “Then when it was dark she would offer to give me a ride home,” Hadley said.

Hadley’s Air Force JROTC unit at Rogers is among student groups helping to organize today’s benefit.

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

Kim’s colleagues and students said they didn’t realize 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.

Rogers community members created the benefit in 2007 to preserve Kim’s legacy of service. 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 he joined Interact, a community-service club at Rogers advised by Kim.

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

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