Story by: Mike Zitz

To say that Cheryl Holman is resilient would be an understatement.

The King George County resident and Germanna Community College graduate was pregnant with her ninth child and homeschooling the others when her marriage crumbled a decade ago. She was also caring for her grandmother. She didn’t know a lot of people in King George, having, grown up in New Jersey, then starting her family in Brooklyn, N.Y. before her husband got a job that brought the family to the area.

When her hour of need arrived, she found out pretty quickly that people genuinely care in King George. An anonymous benefactor paid her mortgage for three months after her husband left.

She had been homeschooling the children and didn’t’ have a job. A bank in King George loaned her 18-year-old daughter money to buy a car so the family had transportation. “She was the only one with an income,” Cheryl says gratefully.

She loved teaching and her children encouraged her to enroll at Germanna to pursue a career in education. . She began her studies at Germanna in 2015, at age 42.

“ I focus on the positive and keep doing the right next thing,” she said.  Her favorite quote is, “Wherever you are, be all there. Live to the hilt every situation you believe to be the will of God.” 

The family was familiar with GCC. Her oldest child, Rachel Morton, earned her nursing degree at Germanna and is now a registered nurse at Stafford Hospital. Rachel was taking classes when Cheryl began hers.

“Because of my situation with becoming a single mom during my pregnancy, Rachel was there at Mary Washington Hospital during my C section,” Cheryl said. “My son Adam was breech.  She cut the cord because her dad had left.” Rachel then spent then spent eight days with Adam in the ICU, Cheryl said. “ That’s where she got the desire to be a nurse.“

Cheryl was encouraged at Germanna by her neighbor Kimberley Boyd, an adjunct professor who taught her Sociology during her first semester. She took all her classes online so she could be home with her children. She also worked as a school bus driver. She’s been a substitute teacher at three King George schools: schools King George Elementary, Sealston, Elementary and Potomac Elementary. She took care of her grandmother till she passed away at 101.

Her nine children and their ages include: Rachel - 28, Drew - 26, Katie -  23, Joey - 21, Lauren - 19, Jack - 17, Billy - 15, Natalie - 11, Adam - 10. 

Her second child, Drew, became a U.S. Air Force crew chief stationed in Mildenhall, England, married and settled there.

Her daughter Katie also graduated from Germanna.

Her daughter, Lauren, was a missionary to Ethiopia and Thailand during her high school summers.

Cheryl graduated from Germanna and transferred into Old Dominion University’s online program. In December, at age 50, she earned her bachelor’s degree in education from ODU. She’s been offered two teaching jobs and has accepted one. She’ll be teaching her favorite subject, math.

“I chose to pick the job where the class had been through three teachers this year,” she saId.  “The class has low academic achievement and morale right now.  That’s where I am needed.  I know I can give hope to these students and encourage them to aim high.” 

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