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Genorace Armstrong
Genorace Armstrong ()

Staff members and students at Ramstein Middle School are mourning the loss of seventh-grade social studies and math teacher Genorace Armstrong, who died Tuesday after a yearlong battle with cancer.

Armstrong, 49, was starting his fourth year at the middle school, where he also taught science and Advancement Via Individual Determination, or AVID, classes.

He was a role model to both his co-workers and students for a positive attitude that never wavered, even when faced with juggling teaching and chemotherapy treatments, those who knew him said.

"One of the things we say in education is you can’t teach until they (students) know you care," school principal Maria Buchwald said. "He would start the day, ‘Let’s hear about your celebrations, concerns, so we can start teaching.’ "

Armstrong was diagnosed with cancer at the start of the 2008-2009 school year. By spring, the cancer was believed to be in remission, but Armstrong relapsed over the summer. He died Tuesday at his off-base home, said Barriett Smith, RMS assistant principal. Armstrong was married and had three children, ages 7, 5 and 3.

Eighth-grader Julio Martinez, III, said Armstrong was the first teacher with whom he got along.

"I could tell him anything," Martinez said. "He’ll always be in my heart."

A public memorial service is planned for 5 p.m. Monday in the Northside Chapel at Ramstein Air Base.

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