Daily Hampshire Gazette - Established 1786
M/clear
31°
M/clear
Hi 56° | Lo 41°

Stone memorial at Leeds School honors teacher Marsha Ciaschini

  • Donna Waterman places a hand on Marsha Ciaschini's name on a stone memorial while she and others listen to a song Ciaschini requested to be played at her funeral. Ciaschini was a second grade at Leeds School in Northampton and passed away from cancer in 2010. Waterman is one of her sisters. <br/>AYRIKA WHITNEY

    Donna Waterman places a hand on Marsha Ciaschini's name on a stone memorial while she and others listen to a song Ciaschini requested to be played at her funeral. Ciaschini was a second grade at Leeds School in Northampton and passed away from cancer in 2010. Waterman is one of her sisters.
    AYRIKA WHITNEY Purchase photo reprints »

  • Nancy Harrington, Cindy Laraeo, Betty Musante, and Jane Punska (from left to right) talk, relfect, and admire the memorial stone table constructed in memory of Marsha Ciaschini, a second grade teacher who passed away from cancer in 2010. All of the women were teachers with Ciaschini at Leeds School in Northampton. The stone table was officially dedicated to Ciaschini on June 21, 2013.<br/>AYRIKA WHITNEY

    Nancy Harrington, Cindy Laraeo, Betty Musante, and Jane Punska (from left to right) talk, relfect, and admire the memorial stone table constructed in memory of Marsha Ciaschini, a second grade teacher who passed away from cancer in 2010. All of the women were teachers with Ciaschini at Leeds School in Northampton. The stone table was officially dedicated to Ciaschini on June 21, 2013.
    AYRIKA WHITNEY Purchase photo reprints »

  • Casey Ciaschini and her son Maddox, 4, sit at a memorial stone bench created in honor of her mother-in-law, Marsha Ciaschini. She was a second grade teacher at Leeds School in Northampton and passed away from cancer in 2010. The school held a ceremony to officially dedicate the bench on June 21, 2013.<br/>AYRIKA WHITNEY

    Casey Ciaschini and her son Maddox, 4, sit at a memorial stone bench created in honor of her mother-in-law, Marsha Ciaschini. She was a second grade teacher at Leeds School in Northampton and passed away from cancer in 2010. The school held a ceremony to officially dedicate the bench on June 21, 2013.
    AYRIKA WHITNEY Purchase photo reprints »

  • Charlie Hale, 18, plays the cello a ceremony for Marsha Ciaschini, a second grade teacher at Leeds School in Northampton who passed away from cancer in 2010. The ceremony was to dedicate a new stone bench at the school in her memory. Hale is one of her former students, and she attended one of his cello recitals when he was younger.<br/>AYRIKA WHITNEY

    Charlie Hale, 18, plays the cello a ceremony for Marsha Ciaschini, a second grade teacher at Leeds School in Northampton who passed away from cancer in 2010. The ceremony was to dedicate a new stone bench at the school in her memory. Hale is one of her former students, and she attended one of his cello recitals when he was younger.
    AYRIKA WHITNEY Purchase photo reprints »

  • Donna Waterman places a hand on Marsha Ciaschini's name on a stone memorial while she and others listen to a song Ciaschini requested to be played at her funeral. Ciaschini was a second grade at Leeds School in Northampton and passed away from cancer in 2010. Waterman is one of her sisters. <br/>AYRIKA WHITNEY
  • Nancy Harrington, Cindy Laraeo, Betty Musante, and Jane Punska (from left to right) talk, relfect, and admire the memorial stone table constructed in memory of Marsha Ciaschini, a second grade teacher who passed away from cancer in 2010. All of the women were teachers with Ciaschini at Leeds School in Northampton. The stone table was officially dedicated to Ciaschini on June 21, 2013.<br/>AYRIKA WHITNEY
  • Casey Ciaschini and her son Maddox, 4, sit at a memorial stone bench created in honor of her mother-in-law, Marsha Ciaschini. She was a second grade teacher at Leeds School in Northampton and passed away from cancer in 2010. The school held a ceremony to officially dedicate the bench on June 21, 2013.<br/>AYRIKA WHITNEY
  • Charlie Hale, 18, plays the cello a ceremony for Marsha Ciaschini, a second grade teacher at Leeds School in Northampton who passed away from cancer in 2010. The ceremony was to dedicate a new stone bench at the school in her memory. Hale is one of her former students, and she attended one of his cello recitals when he was younger.<br/>AYRIKA WHITNEY

Ten years later, Hale, 18, who graduated from Northampton High School earlier this month, returned the favor by performing at the dedication of a memorial in his late teacher’s honor.

A stone memorial was erected on the playground of Leeds School, where Ciaschini taught second grade until her death from pancreatic cancer in 2010 at age 59.

That memorial was dedicated in a brief ceremony Friday afternoon.

Emily Todd, parent of a Leeds School student who was in the last class Ciaschini taught, was not surprised to learn that she took an interest in her students’ extracurricular activities.

“She was somebody who saw students’ strengths and nurtured students’ strengths,” Todd said.

Todd was among those who organized the memorial for Ciaschini. Todd said it was important to have the memorial in place before Ciaschini’s last students, now fifth graders, left the school.

The school and the Leeds Parent Teacher Organization raised $5,000 through a used book sale and private donations, Todd said.

The memorial, a stone table with two small stone benches surrounded by a semicircular stone wall, has Ciaschini’s name with the words “Beloved Teacher” carved in the center.

“Thank you for not forgetting,” Ciaschini’s widower Gary told about 60 people who gathered for the dedication.

“It’s a lasting tribute to a wonderful, wonderful human being,” he added. “We miss her every day.”

Kathy Itterly, a former colleague of Ciaschini’s at the Leeds School and now a professor at Westfield State University, said it is “wonderful to feel that Marsha’s presence will always be permanent.”

Todd said the spot where the memorial was erected is the same spot where Ciaschini would sit with students and other teachers, reading or talking or just relaxing.

Some students are already making plans to sit at the table to play chess or rounds of Magic: The Gathering, said Todd.

Ciaschini’s last class of students gathered at the memorial and read adjectives and short phrases they chose that reminded them of their late teacher, including “loving,” “kind,” “helpful,” “smart,” “forgiving” and “awesome.”

In unison, the approximately 10 students said Ciaschini was, “the best teacher in the history of the earth.”

Nancy Harlow, teacher and former colleague, used different words to describe her late friend: “wife,” “mom,” “grandmother,” “sister,” “daughter,” “friend” and “scholar.”

Harlow said Ciaschini had “an abiding faith in children,” and said she encouraged students to speak and be inquisitive in her classroom.

There was always a “sea of talk” rippling across second-grade classrooms under Ciaschini’s tutelage, Harlow said.

Harlow read a poem appropriately titled “The Summer Day” by Mary Oliver, including the line, “Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?”

Bob Dunn can be reached at bdunn@gazettenet.com.

Legacy Comments0
There are no comments yet. Be the first!
Post a Comment

You must be registered to comment on stories. Click here to register.