Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Principal Cahall on Ms. Tilman's Death

Good morning students and staff…there is never a good way to have to communicate the news that I must share with you this morning…it is with great sadness and sorrow that I share with you the loss of one our school community members. We were informed yesterday that Ms. Sarah Tilman passed away suddenly. Ms. Tilman was one of our teachers who taught biology for the last three years in our school. On Monday, Ms. Tilman left school early with “flu-like” symptoms. Yesterday, we received a call from her parents informing us that she had passed away Monday evening. In talking with her parents, their first concern was for her daughter’s students. They were concerned about who would be there to teach her students and how they would handle the loss of one of their teachers. Ms. Tilman was a dynamic and dedicated teacher and person. She had the gift of sharing her love of science while building relationships with the students that she served. She made learning about science and biology fun, exciting, and with a practical application to the lives of the students that she taught. Although Ms. Tilman’s life was short in terms of years, she had a tremendous impact on hundreds of student’s lives that far out weigh the time that she spent on this earth. It is not necessarily the amount of time that one has on earth but what ones does with the time. I can tell you today that Ms. Tilman had a full and productive life. As we mourn the loss of one of our teachers, colleagues, and friends, I believe that Ms. Tilman is in a better place today. I want our students to know that many of our teachers and staff are hurting today because we lost someone that we respected and cared for. Students, I would ask that you be sensitive and compassionate to the adults that you serve you today. For all of us, this is a time of loss in our school community. Whether you knew Ms. Tilman or not, you may be having some feelings of sadness and grief. I want you to know that we are here to support you, to assist you, and to comfort you. We will have available a team of counselors with us today. If you are in need of someone to talk to or just need some time to reflect, we have identified rooms that you can go to. If your classroom is in the lower level or main level, we will have counselors in room 108. On the second floor, you can go to room 200. On the third floor, you can go to room 327. And if you are in the L-wing, you can go to the library.

I want to reassure you that together we will get through this very difficult period. I know that the caring and compassionate spirit that lies within each of us will shine through in the days and weeks to come as we celebrate the life of Ms. Sarah Tilman who touched so many of our lives. Even though we may be feeling sad right now, it is important to remember all the wonderful and extraordinary things that Ms. Tilman accomplished and what she stood for. Today, you can use this opportunity and dedicate yourself to being the best student or teacher that you can because that is what Ms. Tilman exemplified and lived each day. I have asked your teachers to use part of today’s lesson to allow you to talk and to share how this situation may be affecting you. But it will be important to also focus and continue with the work, learning, and the state of living because I know that is what Ms. Tilman would want us to do.

At this time, I would ask that you would observe a moment of silence in memory of a Ms. Sarah Tilman.

As your principal, I want to reassure you that we care about each of you in a very special way and I will ensure that we will survive this tragedy together. Thank you for taking the time to listen and understand my message today.

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