No matter the job, there will always be a few who reach such a level of expertise that they stop growing. Those who knew Cheryl Barrus said that was never the case for her, even with 34 years at the chalkboard.
Barrus was a fifth grade teacher at Eastside School, and didn’t stop caring for her students when they left her room for the halls of Cody Middle School.
Her colleagues called her an advocate for the students at all levels, taking time to personally meet with them and their parents to make the transition to the middle school and introducing the students to the key teachers and staff at CMS.
“She didn’t just want to help them meet academic goals, but all things, all challenges students might face,” Eastside principal Nick Gallagher said.
Her passion for helping others didn’t end with students.
“In a conversation, if she heard you needed something, the next time you saw her she had it for you,” longtime Eastside colleague Ted Wambeke said.
Barrus and Wambeke bonded over a shared love of science. One of his favorite memories of Barrus was the annual class trip to the Barrus family farm, where she would teach the entire fifth grade about animal tracks and bugs, and she and Wambeke would try to hook as many science, math and reading lessons as they could into the day.
“She never really wanted the limelight,” Wambeke said. “She did these things and it was a quiet thing. She was never there for the glory. She was there for the kids, for our school and our district.”
Barrus passed on Aug. 30. It would have been her 35th year in the classroom. She was 58.
Barrus was born on April 24, 1962, in Laramie to Jim and Marlene Turk. After graduating from Powell High School in 1980, she finished her academic career as a student in 1985 at Montana State University. She began her teaching career the same place it ended, at Eastside.