Superintendent returns to schools after brain tumor

The road in between led her along a path that she never anticipated.

BOULDER - Though she spent more than 40 years of her life working in schools, for Dr. Cindy Stevenson, this week is like her first day.

"I'm thrilled to be back. It's fun," Stevenson said. "It's challenging."

She worked her entire career working in neighboring Jefferson County including the last 12 years serving as superintendent. Stevenson resigned in 2014 after controversy and tensions with the school board at the time. Three members of that board, Ken Witt, Julie Williams, and John Newkirk, were later recalled and replaced in 2015.

"I missed going into schools and seeing what kids do with their lives," Stevenson said. "I missed the constant problem-solving. In organizations, it's every minute, every day there's a challenge."

Now, Stevenson is working as the interim superintendent for the Boulder Valley School District. The previous superintendent, Bruce Messinger, was fired in May after an unspecified personnel issue. Stevenson is going from a situation where she knew almost everyone and everything to essentially knowing nothing and no one.

"So, I've really had to focus on learning," Stevenson said. "I've had to focus on setting relationships."

But, what makes her new beginning special is not because she left education, it's because of what happened after she left.

"August 10th was the anniversary, third anniversary of my 10th brain surgery," Stevenson said.

After leaving JeffCo, Stevenson was diagnosed with a serious brain tumor.

"I was in the hospital for 42 days over the summer," Stevenson said. "I learned a lot about limitations and how do you deal with huge setbacks."

She learned to treat every day like it's her last day and -- her first day.

"I probably take a lot less for granted," Stevenson said."How fortunate I am to be here and how fortunate I am to work with the people I am working with."

She says she feels good with no lingering effects of the tumor. Stevenson undergoes an MRI once-a-year to make sure the tumor has not returned. By the end of the school year, the Boulder Valley School Board will select a permanent superintendent. Stevenson says there's a "slim-to-none" chance that she will continue past this school year.

"I'm healthy. I'm here. I'm doing what I love doing, so, yes, I am grateful," Stevenson said.

© 2017 KUSA-TV


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