Cheryl was born in Seattle on May 24, 1946, the daughter of Chinese restaurant owners Ping and Ruby Chow. As a young teenager, Cheryl graduated from Franklin High School, and then enrolled at Western Washington University, where she earned her bachelor’s degree in teaching. She also earned a master’s degree in administrative management from Seattle University.
Upon her graduation from college, the neophyte educator became a physical education teacher. As a teacher, she was known for her toughness, high standards, and tenacious advocacy for children. Eventually she became a principal of first Sharples Junior High (renamed Aki Kurose Junior High) and then Garfield High.
Cheryl’s devotion to young people is very evident. Among her many achievements, she served as the assistant director for the Girl Scouts of Western Washington, a girls’ basketball coach for the city parks and recreation department, and she also directed the Seattle Chinese Community Girls Drill Team. “Everything that Cheryl did, she worked to instill leadership among the girls and kind of mentor them for their adult lives,” remembers friend Lorena Eng. In addition to this work, Cheryl helped to form an outreach program for teens involved in Asian street gangs.
Cheryl also served as the president of the Seattle School Board and worked at the Washington State Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction. In addition, she served two terms on her local city council.
This chalkboard champion passed away from a central nervous system lymphoma on March 29, 2013, at the age of 66. She is interred at Evergreen Washelli Memorial Park in Seattle. She is survived by her partner, Sarah Morningstar, and their daughter, Liliana.