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Family, former students, co-workers remember Chad Cryer as an 'incredible' teacher, man
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Family, former students, co-workers remember Chad Cryer as an 'incredible' teacher, man

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Incredible, remarkable, magical, loved and inspiring are all words colleagues and former students used to describe Chad Cryer, who died Dec. 14 at the age of 41.

Each post on social media about Cryer’s death led to dozens of stories shared from friends, fellow teachers and students about the impact he made on their lives.

“I saw one of his students put on Facebook that he lived his dash, and, you know, I thought that was very fitting because he was a very, very busy man,” Cryer’s wife, Nikki, said Thursday. “He went nonstop. He was always doing something, and he put everything he had into everything he did. He didn’t waste any time. He definitely lived his dash.”

She said it has been heartwarming to see the stories of how her husband touched people’s lives in the community.

“He had always gotten messages from students and former students – cards, letters, everything in the mail – so I know he was aware of how much he was loved and how much the students thought of him, but I wasn’t aware of just how many he had touched over the years,” she said.

A history teacher, Cryer began his 17-year teaching career at Bryan High School, but moved to A&M Consolidated High School in 2018 when his eldest son—now a senior at Consol—started high school.

“He left behind him better people,” Bryan High School Principal Lane Buban said. “Kids were able to think and problem solve and do things that they never thought they could do before after having been taught by him because it wasn’t just about history. It was about being a better person. … He left behind better people and made better people out of the students that entered his classroom.”

A&M Consolidated High School Principal Gwen Elder called him an “incredible human being” who loved his students and family.

“Everyone has a calling, and teaching was definitely something that he was called to do because he’s left a big impact on the kids, on his colleagues, on our school family,” she said.

He taught Advanced Placement U.S. History at Consol, and students – even those who had never thought about taking an AP class – wanted to take it because of Cryer.

Lindsay Zahn, history teacher and social studies department head at Consol, said her heart breaks for Cryer’s wife and three children, but also the students who will not have the chance to have him as a teacher.

Cryer died following five months of battling a staph infection that had spread throughout his body. Two days after arriving home from a family vacation to Colorado, Nikki Cryer said, she took her husband to the emergency room. Then, a few days later he was diagnosed with infective endocarditis because the staph infection had gone to his heart valve but also had spread to other organs, including his brain where he had a graft from an aneurism in 2010. He did not recover from the infection returning to the graft, she said.

High school sweethearts at Rockdale High School, Nikki Cryer said, she never imagined they would face what they have since July.

“It’s hard. I haven’t gone a day without talking to him since I was 17 years old,” she said. “We did everything together, and he did everything with his kids.”

She said he coached every youth sports team his children were on and even learned gymnastics because that is what their oldest son wanted to do.

His two passions were teaching and baseball, but he originally started teaching so he could become a high school baseball coach. That changed when his oldest son was born and he did not want to be away for as long as would be required to be a coach. But he fell in love with teaching.

Many of the comments shared on social media from former students name Cryer as their favorite teacher, a title seen just from the honors he received in the few years he was at Consol. Since 2018, he was selected by the students to give the graduation speech in 2020, named Teacher of the Year in 2021 and was selected as a Hall of Fame honored teacher by students in 2020 and 2021 and will be honored by a student this spring at the 2022 ceremony.

“He was just an amazing human being, and he loved his students, and he loved what he did,” Elder said. “His calling was in a classroom, working with kiddos, and he did it well.”

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In his 2020 graduation speech, Cryer challenged the graduates to add value to the world.

“I’m going to tell you one last piece of advice that I have learned in the hardest of ways,” Cryer said from the stage in Tiger Field in 2020. “If you desire to become valuable in this world, the surest way to do this is to provide value to the world.”

That duty to improve others is what he did in the classroom and with everyone he worked with, Elder said.

Gabby Lloyd, a 2017 Bryan High School graduate and special education teacher at Rock Prairie Elementary School in College Station, said she would not be a teacher if it had not been for Cryer.

She said she did not have a strong support system behind her when she went to Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, saying there was a stigma of people asking if she would go to college. She graduated in May.

However, before receiving her degree, she changed her major four or five times and did not feel like she fit the college-going mold. She returned to Bryan in 2018 and visited some of her former teachers, including Cryer, who taught her two years in IB U.S. History.

After about 10 or 15 minutes in his classroom, she said, he encouraged her to try education.

“I tried it and fell head over heels, and I don’t think I would have tried it if I didn’t have that idea put in my head,” she said. “Really looking back, now that I am a teacher and I teach with College Station, he’s one of the teachers that come to my brain when I’m thinking how do I want to impact my students, and how do I want to be a teacher.”

Nicolás Macri, a 2020 Consol graduate attending Dartmouth College, said he cannot process not being able to speak to Cryer again.

“He made me — and every person who met him — feel so meaningful and that our history and our future mattered,” he said. “He cared so much about everything I had to say and always knew the perfect insight or funny retort to share, and he never let us forget that we were worth it.”

Christina Williams, also a 2020 Consol graduate who is attending Texas A&M, said Cryer would arrive at school early and stay late to make sure every student had the chance to meet with him, calling him a “fantastic teacher and a good man.”

“He was probably one of the best teachers I’ve ever had the privilege to observe in a classroom,” Buban said Thursday. “He was the most engaging teacher, the most challenging teacher I’ve ever seen. Some of the lessons he had were very difficult, but somehow he would get [the students] to rise to the challenge and enjoy the level of difficulty or level of rigor that he provided and the challenges he provided.”

When people entered Cryer’s classroom, he said, they did not want to leave. Zahn saw a similar reaction when new teachers at Consol observed in his classroom.

“He had a huge impact on other teachers,” Buban said. “Other teachers wanted to go watch him teach, just to kind of see what it was all about, and how he delivered his craft. He was really kind of an artist; he was that magical of a teacher.”

Last year, Cryer had his oldest son as a teacher, and Nikki Cryer said the classroom would spill over to their home, resulting in 11 p.m. history debates.

She said she hopes people remember her husband as being a “smart, quick-witted, hard-working, amazing teacher” and “a wonderful father.”

“We couldn’t have asked for any more,” she said. “He was wonderful. I just hope my children will always remember how much he loved them.”

A visitation will take place from 2-5 p.m. Sunday at Memorial Funeral Chapel in College Station, with funeral service scheduled for 2 p.m. Monday at Central Church.

In lieu of flowers, people are asked to donate to a scholarship fund – “Benefit Account for Chad Cryer” – established at Aggieland Credit Union at 201 Southwest Parkway E. in College Station or to the College Station ISD Education Foundation.

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