At 6am last Friday, September 15, Buzz, one of our social studies teachers, passed away after having a heart attack. After thirty-odd years of teaching, most of those in alternative programs, Buzz touched many lives. He will be sorely missed.
When news of his passing reached the students they were understandably hit hard. So many of our at-risk youth have already experienced so much loss. They come to school for stability--as one student put it, "teachers aren't supposed to die."
Buzz would have loved what has happened over the past week, however. His driving mission in education was to provide students with a sense of place, of community, of belonging. On the 15th, many students were too shaken to stay in school, and that is understandable. But many students stayed, comforting one another and their teachers, some of whom had worked with Buzz for over 20 years.
His memorial service was packed; current and former students told stories and jokes, celebrated his life, and reminded us of Buzz's reach. So many of them would not have graduated, or even have believed they could graduate, without Buzz's guidance.
I have never been more proud of our students. For the past week they have been the living embodiment of Buzz's legacy--education is important and as a community we can get through anything.