Sue Nodine is always teaching. She currently serves as a first-grade teacher at Sterling School.

“I started teaching in January 1976,” she said.

Nodine served for years as a speech therapist and then as a special education resource teacher. She began teaching first graders in 1987 and retired from Pickens County schools in 2010. Her time off was short.

After working as a long-term substitute and then working again as a first grade teacher, Nodine came to Sterling as a response to intervention teacher, working with students in small groups. This year, she returned to the first grade classroom amidst her own challenges.

“This is just my life, like getting up and breathing,” she said. “First grade is second nature. People say, ‘Why don’t you retire and do something fun?’ I am doing something fun. Perhaps I have been blessed with such a wonderful career with wonderful teachers and administrators that it doesn’t feel like 40 years.”

Shortly before teachers returned to work this school year, Nodine was diagnosed with breast cancer.

“I have a history of breast cancer in my family, so they’ve watched me very carefully,” she said. “The mammogram saved my life. I said, OK, let’s get it done. I met the children for Meet the Teacher. Their first day of first grade, I was having a mastectomy.”

Rather than taking that challenge as a sign to slow down, Nodine has embraced her job as a platform for educating the mothers and grandmothers of those in her daily care.

“God has directed me over the past 40 years in this career,” she said. “It’s to get the word out to these precious moms. Everyone needs to be screened.”

Nodine wants to see more opportunities for free breast cancer screenings for women and she is working toward making that a reality.

Sterling School encourages PRIDE: positivity, respect, integrity, determination and empathy — attributes Nodine lives out for her students.

“I tell them how important that ‘D’ is,” she said. “We have to be determined. You have to persevere. I have a positive story about what my future is going to be as far as survivorship. They are giving me a thumbs up. I’m learning a lot this year, even as a 40-year veteran.”

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