We are missing our good friend Sammy.
I used to teach grade 5/6, but during the summer holidays I moved downstairs where I am now teaching kindergarten/grade one. When I began settling into my new classroom downstairs, in August just before school started, I started to think about how it would probably be easier away from last year’s classroom, upstairs, where I had a great time with a group of energetic intermediate students for whom this blogging adventure began. We grew very close and although the year unfolded in a typical fashion, we all did a lot of worrying about one classmate who had a malignant brain tumour. Our class proudly took on the Coins for Cancer fundraising in preparation for the Cops for Cancer, Tour de Rock in September 2010.
Sammy was a special young man who had a great impact on his school community as well as on our local community. He was a cheerful and positive student even as he faced cancer, radiation and chemotherapy. He participated as fully as he could in many activities, but he also liked to stay inside to keep warm and help me with classroom tasks or read his books as he built his skills learning a new language. As I ironed each Earth Day grocery bag to set the fabric paint, Sammy would very carefully and meticulously fold each bag. He could tell you which bag belonged to which student just by the art work. He was an energetic “server” of pizza on Wednesdays when our class distributed pizza as a hot lunch. On the “one” occasion when I became exasperated at the smart board, it was Sammy who found his way up behind me to make goofy faces that got us all to lighten our perspective on the task at hand. That truly does make a difference in the life of a classroom and that was Sammy’s nature – to simply lighten our daily burdens.
Then summer came and we all parted ways. Sammy got sick very early in the holidays and spent some time in our local hospital prior to his stay at Canuck Place in Vancouver. Mid August came and Sammy became very weak and he passed away. We all lost a very dear friend this past August.
It was Sammy’s illness that allowed us to come together as a school and got us appreciating the community that we have. Our wish was simple. It was just to please let Sammy be well and get healthy. His family is a very connected and loving family who simply enjoyed just spending time together. Sammy was a well-liked student with a positive outlook on life. He will certainly be remembered for being a boy who demonstrated a joy in living and learning and spending time with friends and family.
As this September unfolded and I began to learn along side a new group of students away from my old classroom, my mind still shifted to thoughts of Sammy. I sometimes thought that going up those stairs would bring back all those memories. I thought it would be good to be downstairs and here my mind could settle on things like paint, play and puppets. It was not until I started teaching the letter sounds that I knew that the memories of Sammy were more than likely to make me smile and remember his light-hearted nature and terrific sense of humour. As my new class started “sssss-ing” together to show our understanding that “S” says sssss we also started offering “S is for sandwich, sun, or summer.” I agreed that those were fine choices of “s words” and it was then that I realized that for me, “S” will always be for Sammy.