Monday, May 21, 2012

I miss my friend, Jeannie Leitis


My friend, Jeannie Leitis.
My daughter's kindergarten teacher, friend and colleague died in a tragic accident earlier this school year, her name was Jeannie Leitis. I first met Jeannie when my daughter started kindergarten in 1999. Kelsey, my daughter, was a bit nervous about kindergarten but as we walked up to the classroom and she saw her teacher so young and energetic Kelsey was instantly at ease. As we approached, Jeannie bent right down to get eye to eye with Kelsey and introduced herself, Kelsey instantly LOVED her teacher. When Jeannie was done talking to Kelsey she looked and me and asked if I would like to volunteer, I instantly agreed, this was the start of my love affair with teaching. Jeannie not only taught and inspired my daughter she taught and inspired me as well. I spent every Tuesday and Thursday in the classroom helping, watching, learning and shortly after that I went back to school to get my teaching credential. 

Kelsey with Jeannie at her kindergarten graduation.
 
Jeannie loved her kids and had extremely high expectations which resulted in her students excelling in school. Her students loved her! Her energy and enthusiasm for teaching was so contagious her students worked hard to keep up with her, making huge strides in their education. On the playground Jeannie would encourage play and a lot of times participate in the games her kids were playing.

Jeannie moved to Michigan a few years ago, but we kept up with each other through Facebook and whenever she came to town. When we got the news of her death, Kelsey and I were shocked and saddened, how could this have happened to such an incredible teacher, true friend, amazing person. We held each other and cried, we just couldn't imagine not seeing her again, hearing her voice or reading about her most current adventure.

As Kelsey and I were getting her graduation announcements ready to mail out, we again were saddened that the teacher that started her on this amazing academic journey ( 4th in line for Valedictorian) was not here to see her graduate.  Jeannie's life ended before it should have and that fact we struggle with everyday, but her memory is alive in each and every one of us that had the pleasure of calling her wife, daughter, friend, teacher.

Kelsey's graduation picture.
Our school has decided to erect a memorial in honor of Jeannie Leitis, a small basket ball hoop in the kindergarten first grade playground, something that Jeannie would have loved when she was there teaching her kiddos. We will be purchasing it with the donations we raise and the district will put it in for us. 

This is the basketball hoop we are wanting to purchase.
If you would like to help honor Jeannie's memory and make a generous donation a tax deductible foundation has been created in Jeannie’s name and checks should be made out to the “Education Foundation.” On the check memo line please write “Jeannie Leitis Memorial.” Please send your checks directly to:

Lisa Gonzales-Burris
Monroe School
4400 Ladoga Avenue
Lakewood, CA 90713

Any funds collected in excess will be used to purchase books and materials to continue Jeannie’s work/love of teaching children to read. If you have any questions please contact Lisa at: Lisageebee@me.com

We miss you Jeannie!

Love,

18 comments :

  1. Replies
    1. Thank you Misty, she was an amazing person!
      Shawna

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  2. I am so sorry about the loss of your friend. What a wonderful way for the school to remember her!
    Lori
    Conversations in Literacy

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Lori, we all miss her so much and are very excited about the basketball hoop, she would have loved it!
      Shawna

      Delete
  3. I am sorry to hear about your friend... this IS an amazing and wonderful tribute!
    ❤Teri
    A Cupcake for the Teacher

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Teri, she was a wonderful person and teacher, we had to do something great to keep her memory alive, and I think this is perfect.
      Shawna

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  4. Congratulations to your daughter on her academic success! Sounds like the world is a brighter place because of her K teacher; such a tragedy to have to say "good bye" to someone so young. Thank you for sharing your story. What a wonderful way to remember Jeannie!

    Barbara

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    Replies
    1. Thank you Barbara, we are so proud of Kelsey and Jeannie was one of her biggest supporters. We that knew and loved Jeannie are very excited for this little basketball hoop, she would have loved it and it will be a great reminder that an incredible teacher worked there!
      Shawna

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  5. How special of a teacher she must have been; I got the chills as I read your post! You know that is truly special for your school and community to do to keep her memory alive!

    kellybrown28021@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Kelly, she was such an amazing person. We are very excited about this little basketball hoop, it will be a great reminder of an incredible teacher/person!
      Shawna

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  6. So sorry to hear about your friend. Your post tells how much she meant to you and her students. What a great way to remember her.

    April
    Wolfelicious

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you April, she was such an amazing person. We are very excited to have this little basketball hoop as a reminder of her.
      Shawna

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  7. Aw Shawna, you really brought a tear and a smile to my face. She really loved working with you and loved teaching Kelsey. The world sure lost a great teacher and a great inspiration.

    Sean (Jeannie's husband)

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    Replies
    1. Thank you Sean, she was one in a million!
      Shawna

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  8. What a sweet thing to do to honor your friend's memory. It sounds like Kelsey was lucky to have her as a teacher. I'm so sorry for your loss.

    Congratulations to your daughter on her graduation! It sounds like she is a very smart girl!

    Blessings,
    Marlana
    Lil' Country Kindergarten

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    Replies
    1. Hi Marlana,
      Thank you, Kelsey is a very hard working and conscience student, we are so proud of her! Jeannie was a very special teacher and we are all excited to have this memorial.
      Shawna

      Delete
  9. What a beautiful way to pay tribute to your friend. Your post was so moving! I'm sorry to hear of your loss - she sounded like a wonderful person and friend.
    Diane

    ReplyDelete

Thoughts and comments are always welcome!

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