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Remembering Ms. Hancock

By: Sadiya Kherani

A student, a teacher, a mentor, a friend, a colleague, these are a few of the roles Ms. Hancock played at Wheaton North High School. Although these have been a tough couple of weeks for teachers and students alike, it has also been a period of reflection.

Ms. Hancock taught in the science department, but she’s been involved at Wheaton North a lot longer than people may know. She attended high school here at Wheaton North and was first introduced to the science department her freshman year when she had Mrs. Wolf for Bio. “She was kind of shy and quiet, but I noticed she worked really hard and had this great smile that would light up the room...she was just a joy to have around and very quickly I realized that as a student she was somebody special,” says Mrs. Wolf. Her love for science and her connection with Mrs. Wolf only grew from there. She went onto college and was a biology major and then later got a teaching certification and came back and student taught for Mrs. Wolf. She then went on to get a teaching position in the science department here at North, and the rest is history.

Ms. Hancock has been described as “the glue that holds everyone together” by Mrs. Wolf. “She is always in your corner," says Mr. Neuhaus. Mr. Voss explains that the staff motto is “‘We try and care.’ Ms. Hancock really lived by that motto”. Ms. Hancock’s biggest impacts on the school are by far her kindness, compassion, and love for her job and students. Not everyone had her as a teacher, but I did. I had her for freshman A-bio, and I think we can all agree freshman year is not the easiest thing to get through. But, I learned a lot from her class aside from just the curriculum. I learned what hardworking teachers looked like. I learned what teachers passionate about their field and classes looked like, and I learned what motivation looked like. Ms. Hancock embodied all these qualities and it was extremely obvious.

Senior Abby Wells explains, “I know Ms. Hancock was loved by many, and I was shocked and deeply saddened to hear of her passing. I am thankful for having her as my teacher freshman year; she was such a cheerful friendly person, and her enthusiasm for biology was clearly evident in her daily teaching. I know my friends and I will always remember her for her fun phrases and her positive impact on my classmates and my life. She will never be forgotten.”

Anyone who was in A-bio will definitely remember the “infamous A-bio ‘Killifish lab’”. But, most probably don’t know the work that was required behind the scenes to make it all happen. Mr. Voss explains that Ms. Hancock would work tirelessly to make this lab perfect for her students. One memory that came to his mind was, “ the times the three of us spent going out to Northside Park to collect all of the plants and critters that students would identify in the pond water analysis lab. Setting up for that lab requires several hours out collecting samples and setting up 7 different aquariums for students to study, but Ms. Hancock was always happy to put in the time to make sure her students had this great, unique experience in A-biology. She did things like this all the time for her students and colleagues.” Mr. Neuhaus also had a memory that stuck out to him. He explained, “ It takes a special friend to tell you when you’re wrong, and Ms. Hancock had both the courage and the love to tell you when you had made a mistake. Most people won't do that, but Ms. Hancock did. I've always admired this about her and tried to develop this in my own life.”

I think a lot of students forget that teachers have lives outside of school just like us. But, after talking to Mrs. Wolf, I learned so much more about Ms. Hancock’s impact outside of the school. Mrs. Wolf described her as an excellent aunt to her nieces and nephews and an excellent parent to her dog. Ms. Hancock didn’t just impact us--her students--but she impacted her family, her friends, and the younger generations that she came into contact with.

Ms. Hancock was definitely something special, and she was definitely one of a kind. Her energy filled the room, her smile brightened the room, and her teaching encapsulated the room. The staff, students, and school will never forget her, her talent, and her personality. For those who had her, worked with her, or just knew her name, the legacy she left behind will always be remembered.

If you would like to send a message about Ms. Hancock, please see the information from the Wheaton North administration below:

As we continue to mourn the loss of Ms. Hancock, we would like to offer an opportunity for the Falcon family and Wheaton North community to share their condolences, messages of sympathy, and celebrations of the ways Katie has made an impact on our Falcon community. Please see your grade level Google Classroom page to access Flipgrid to record a short (up to two minutes) message if you would like. If you would be more comfortable submitting a written message, please email your message to Message clips will be used to create a video to be shared with the Falcon community, and all messages will be shared with the Hancock family. Please have messages submitted by 1/29/21. Remember, your counselors are always available to talk with you about any emotions you may be experiencing. Be sure to reach out for a connection.

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