FAIRFIELD, Ohio — A popular veteran principal recently received a warm sendoff from students as she embarked on a round of potentially life-saving medical treatments.
Missy Muller, principal of Fairfield West Elementary, got a surprise emotional farewell last week as she temporarily leaves her position to undergo treatment to combat a deadly disease.
The love for Muller, who has been principal at the school since 2017, was on full display as the school’s nearly 800 students decorated the school with encouraging messages.
When she entered the school last week, Muller found hundreds of colorful paper hands, created by her students, plastered on the school’s doors, lobby and office windows. Each was adorned with a student’s personal message of love and encouragement.
Staffers also surprised Muller in the gym with a festive sendoff of snacks and gifts, including a custom-made blanket — featuring photos of students and teachers — to help keep her warm during treatments.
“The sendoff was absolutely amazing,” said Muller. “My family and I are so overwhelmed with the outpouring. And the love, kindness, support and prayers has been incredible.”
Stricken in June of 2021, Muller suffers from myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS), which is a rare group of disorders in which the body no longer makes enough healthy blood cells.
It’s a type of cancer and is also known as a bone marrow failure disorder. There is no cure for MDS, but its advancement in those stricken can be arrested. Left untreated, however, it can lead to leukemia.
“It really helps to know that I have so many people in Fairfield cheering and sending love my way to help me on this journey to overcome MDS. Fairfield Schools and the staff at West Elementary have been outstanding since I was diagnosed. They have supported me and allowed me to continue to do my job separate from my disease,” said Muller.
“As my counts dropped due to progression of the disease they adapted and wore masks to protect me,” she said.
Fairfield Schools Spokeswoman Gina Gentry-Fletcher said “Missy is a beloved administrator in our district, especially at West Elementary.”
“The students, staff and parents have surrounded her with so much overwhelming support. And Missy’s colleagues at our five other elementary schools have also rallied around her through activities and fundraisers, as have our secondary schools. As a district we stand with Missy during this cancer fight and will continue to send her strong prayers and positive thoughts as she begins this journey.”
Muller said “I am blessed to have an amazing office and building staff that I know will continue to do wonderful things at West. Knowing they are holding down the fort lets me focus on beating MDS and getting back to them as quickly as I can.”
“As I said to the staff at West, this is not goodbye, this is ‘see ya later.’”