Charlotte teacher working through cancer treatment gets shoutout from Ellen DeGeneres, surprise gift

Charlotte teacher fighting cancer still teaching from home

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - First-year Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools (CMS) math teacher Wil Loesel is teaching in the middle of two health emergencies. One is COVID-19 and the other is his personal story. Back in March, Loesel was diagnosed with cancer. He didn’t let the diagnosis stop him from teaching,

On Tuesday, May 19, pop culture star Ellen DeGeneres gave him a big shout out. Although he’s not physically on her show, they’ve recapped his story and shared pictures on air.

A short video was published on Ellen’s YouTube page Tuesday.

“I’m sending my love to you Wil and there’s something else, I know your family and friends are trying to raise $25,000 for you and your sons - guess what.” Ellen said.

That’s when she announced Box Tops for Ed is giving Loesel $25,000.

Loesel said he was restated to Stage 4 shortly after WBTV’s original segment aired – so they added spinal injections to his regimen.

He had his first cycle of chemo and “the mass of cancer has visibly gotten smaller.” He started his second cycle Monday.

“It’s been a wonderful way to share positivity with people during such a scary and challenging time for us all,” Loesel said.

He started teaching Math at Albemarle Middle School in August. He says he has already connected with his students and didn’t want to lose that bond.

“It’s the most amazing experience I have had,” Loesel said. “I have 117 kids that I teach and I have the privilege of standing in front of them and helping to be small part of their world.”

Soon after his diagnosis, he stayed in the hospital and taught from his hospital bed. He was thinking about his students.

“It takes a long time for some of these students to trust,” Loesel said. “There are students - they want to push me away 'cause they don’t want to risk being disappointed again and it takes a long time to earn that trust and I finally have that trust.”

Loesel is known to his students as Mr. L. They have written letters earlier in the school year describing what a great teacher Mr. L is and how he makes math understandable.

The teacher says they do respond when they see him teaching from the hospital.

“Sometimes they will feel very concerned,” Loesel said. “Hey does it hurt. Do you feel better.”

Loesel spent 15 years in corporate America and wasn’t getting fulfilled. He went to school at age 35 to get a degree. He teamed up with Teach for America and became a math teacher.

“I’m very proud to call myself a teacher,” Loesel said. “I’m very proud I became a teacher - it’s already become a big part of who I am - even though it’s only my first year - I know there is nothing else I’d rather be doing.”

Monday, Mr. L was preparing to get a blood transfusion. While getting treatment, he took his iPad so he can connect with his students.

“I am able to post and respond to the questions and grades,” Mr. L said. “And I’m glad. It’s really kept my spirits high and all of the positive energy that comes back from the kids.”

Mr. L hopes to finish his Chemo and be back in the classroom in the fall. He says he feels good about his prognosis. Mr. L’s family has set up a GoFundMe page to help with his medical expenses. For more information click here.

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