Instructor finds strength, inspiration from Delran fourth grade class

Kim Davis’ book recounts student support during her cancer treatment

First time author Kim Davis poses with a copy of her children’s book, “My Chameleon Teacher,” a story based on her real life experiences teaching while undergoing chemotherapy (Kim Destefano/Special to The Sun).

Kim Davis is a chameleon.

She’s a mother. A teacher. A cancer patient. Now, she’s a published author.

When Davis, a Medford resident, was diagnosed with a rare form of sarcoma in 2017, she leaned on her “prayer warriors,” some of whom were young members of her fourth grade class.

“When I was first diagnosed, I went through a really hard time in the beginning,” Davis recalled. “You’re really blindsided when you get that news. My class really just inspired me to share my story with them and we became a team that year.”

Davis’ children’s book, “My Chameleon Teacher,” was inspired by the support she found in that group at Delran Intermediate School in 2018. It follows a student who sees his teacher’s hair change each day and suspects she might be a chameleon. The teacher later explains to the class that she has cancer and students rally around her as she undergoes chemotherapy treatments.

“I want children to realize that even though you might hear the word cancer and think that it’s a really bad thing to hear and it is, you can still live life and persevere and keep going,” Davis said. 

In real life, Davis would wear differently styled wigs to school, sometimes surprising her special education students with a bright pink hairdo. She’s since retired, but says she misses teaching more than anything.

“I always thought my teachers were my superheroes,” Davis noted. “It was a dream of mine to publish a children’s book. We always taught our kids to look around for little moments in your life that could turn into a story. Seeing these little minds and how creative they were inspired me.”

Medford resident Kim Davis wrote “My Chameleon Teacher,” a children’s book based on her experiences teaching while undergoing chemotherapy treatments for sarcoma (Kim Davis/Special to The Sun).

“My Chameleon Teacher” was released in October and is available online at Amazon and Barnes and Noble

Davis’ publisher, Krista Clive-Smith, knew instantly she wanted to publish the teacher’s story.

“It’s so accepting and so loving, that by the end of the book, you’re filled with joy,” Clive-Smith said. “For me, anytime we could take subject matter and content so difficult and come out the other side feeling great, that’s a winner.”

The book took two-and-a-half years to publish. Through that time, Davis continued treatments and now spends time with her family, whom the characters are named after.

“I really wanted to touch people’s hearts,” Davis added. “I don’t want them to be sad when they read it. I want to bring them happiness and embrace it. If you have an idea, go for it.

“Don’t ever think that you can’t accomplish something.”

After working on “My Chameleon Teacher,” Clive-Smith considers Davis one of her superheroes.

“I give Kim big kudos,” Clive-Smith offered. “When you’re going through something as emotional and physical as what she has gone through and have the perseverance and the commitment and the energy to focus on producing big life’s work. She’s a cancer thriver. 

“I think it is a brave and courageous superhuman feat.”