Students Surprise Teacher Battling Cancer With Christmas Carols On Her Front Lawn

by : Julia Banim on : 24 Dec 2019 15:32
Students Surprise Teacher Battling Cancer With Christmas Carols On Her Front LawnStudents Surprise Teacher Battling Cancer With Christmas Carols On Her Front LawnGood Morning America

A teacher in Vancouver currently battling cancer was in for a wonderfully emotional surprise when her pupils turned up to her house to sing Christmas carols.


Second grade teacher Laurie Burpee has been on medical leave from York Elementary School since October, following a cancer diagnosis in May. Resting at home the evening before a chemotherapy appointment, she was surprised to see a light and a number of ‘little Santa hats’ appear on her lawn.

Heading out of the front door to investigate, Laurie quickly realised she was looking at a group of almost 30 York Elementary School pupils, all merrily singing Christmas carols for their inspiring teacher.

You can watch the kids singing here:


Speaking with Good Morning America, Laurie said:

I thought, ‘There are kids out there,’ and then I thought, ‘There are a LOT of kids out there’. When I went to the door and saw they were kids from school, the tears started to flow.

Following Laurie’s cancer diagnosis, doctors initially believed she had breast cancer. However, after a double mastectomy, it was discovered Laurie actually had a rare salivary gland cancer located beneath one of her breasts.

Laurie has endured six rounds of radiation and now finished up with her third round of chemotherapy in a bid to fight the cancer, which has now metastasised to her lungs.

Although Laurie has been away from the school, pupils and colleagues continue to be inspired by her caring nature, and have even launched a kindness project in honour of this very brave and special woman.

Posted by Kindness 911 on Monday, December 9, 2019

The idea for this project apparently sprung from Laurie’s own absolutely brilliant birthday tradition, where she and friends partake in a day of random acts of kindness.

A parent made a Facebook page for people to share their own random acts of kindness, just as Laurie and her pals do each birthday.


Meanwhile, signs have been put up in York Elementary classrooms so teachers and students can get ideas for their own random acts of kindness, keeping tally of all the lovely and selfless things they do in Laurie’s name.

York Elementary principal Dawn Harris – who helped organise the carol singing after a parent suggested the idea – said:

She’s just this loving heart. She reminds us that we need to show kindness every day … and we’re continuing to live that in our building because of her.

Carol singing teacher cancerCarol singing teacher cancerGood Morning America

And this wasn’t the only surprise in store for the super teacher. As she listened to the children sing, Laurie spotted police cars hurtling down her street.

At first Laurie thought she and the kids might be in for a stern ticking off for causing a disturbance. However, the officers were actually there to give her a ‘Kindness 911 citation’.

According to this citation:

You are the embodiment of kindness and have a positive impact on every person you know … and many you don’t know. Thank you for being an example of kindness, compassion and goodwill. Even when faced with overwhelming circumstances you are a light.

Thank you for your commitment to your students and your York Elementary family. May this night remind you that you are never alone and we look forward to walking with you through your metamorphosis where you will most definitely be a beautiful butterfly.

Carol singing teacher cancerCarol singing teacher cancerGood Morning America

Ever the teacher, Laurie has since made sure this message wasn’t just about her, saying:

This should never be about me. It should just be about kindness growing and people realizing that sharing that is powerful.

To build that culture and that climate around just noticing the tiny, little things you do make a huge difference and to know the importance of kindness and how you can just incorporate that easily into your day, it’s just phenomenal.


Here’s wishing Laurie Burpee – and all the other fantastic teachers across the world – a very Merry Christmas.

If you have a story you want to tell send it to UNILAD via [email protected]

Julia Banim

Jules studied English Literature with Creative Writing at Lancaster University before earning her masters in International Relations at Leiden University in The Netherlands (Hoi!). She then trained as a journalist through News Associates in Manchester. Jules has previously worked as a mental health blogger, copywriter and freelancer for various publications.

Topics: Life, Christmas Carols, Laurie Burpee, Teacher, Vancouver, York Elementary School


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    Students surprise teacher fighting cancer with Christmas carols on her front lawn

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