Guest post by a fellow colleague Linda Daniel, who teaches Foreign Language at Starpoint Middle School in Lockport, New York.
One year ago today our hearts were filled with darkness and unanswerable questions. Humanity at its worst had confronted humanity at its best. At first glance it appeared that evil clearly won. As the layers of a horrendous act were peeled away, we found light, beauty and hope in the lives of those who were unimaginably taken away from the people that loved them, needed them and wanted them.
This light, beauty and hope shined down on a world in mourning. We were blessed to get a glimpse of the beautiful souls taken away from us. As I learned about Miss Rachel Marie D’Avino all I could think about was how brave and strong she was in those last moments. Day after day I wondered, how did Rachel have the strength to keep calm, stand her ground and be the rock her students needed? She was able to do all of these things because of who she was, a smart, determined, hardworking and compassionate lady.
Rachel continues to teach and inspire me. I would like to encourage all the readers, especially teachers, to embrace Rachel’s legacy. It is never too late for anything! It’s never too late to start smiling, to start a new sport, to become involved in a charity, to go back to school, to have compassion with those suffering from a mental illness, or to start being the teacher your students need you to be. We can learn how to be our best by following Rachel’s example. When a day goes bad, as they sometimes do don’t hesitate to fix the problem. Listen to your inner-voice to make a change.
On this Newton Remembrance day, I vow to allow Rachel to shine through me. I will smile to those who never smile back at me. I will make a student laugh. I will make a charitable donation. I will donate my time and talents I will exercise my mind, my body and my spirit. I will force myself to be a hard worker the entire day. I invite all of you to do the same.
Rachel, you shared gifts with the world that were priceless. Those gifts will never stop giving. Your inspiration will never stop inspiring. Your smile lives on day after day and memory after memory in those that knew and loved you. As they enter new chapters of their lives your spirit is there, as well. I feel you shining down and blessing us with a positive light and ray of hope that tomorrow will be brighter for everyone. Thank you for inspiring us. Thank you for your selfish sacrifices. Thank you for being you. You will never be forgotten.