Honoring a tie-loving teacher

Memories: Pupils at Trinity Lutheran School remember their late mentor with an assembly and a colorful display of neckwear.

May 02, 2004|By Amanda Ponko | Amanda Ponko,SUN STAFF

Dozens of tie-shaped paper cutouts hung in the room, brightly colored with crayons and markers and scrawled with messages like "We'll never forget you," in memory of Trinity Lutheran School teacher Sam Scott.

More than 60 of Scott's sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders gathered in the Joppa school's multipurpose room Thursday afternoon, along with his wife, Debbie, and teachers to honor their friend and mentor who died March 23 at age 59 after a stroke.

Scott had an affinity for ties ---- he owned more than 140 ---- but his true enthusiasm was for teaching, his profession for 32 years.

After retiring a couple of years ago, Scott's passion for academia got the better of him. He returned to teaching math seven months ago at Trinity Lutheran. Vince Salamone of Abingdon, one of Scott's eighth-graders, said that what made Scott an amazing teacher was his personal relationships with his pupils.

"He took the time to know you as a person before he taught you," Vince said. "He would take what we liked, like sports or whatever, and apply it to what we were learning. ... I'll just miss coming to school every day and seeing him."

At the beginning of the assembly, the pupils performed skits about class with Scott, illustrating his energy and humor. Three of Scott's seventh-graders then presented his wife with a scrapbook they had created, which included photos and letters pupils had written to Scott after he died.

Debbie Scott of Edgewood said her husband would have been wondering why everyone was making such a fuss over him, but would have been touched by his pupils' kind words and tributes to him.

"He loved each and every one of you," she said to the pupils. "He would've worked here for nothing. He was proud of all of you."

The love and support from the school have helped Debbie Scott cope with her husband's unexpected death, she said.

"I'm overwhelmed," she said. "I'm feeling absolutely blessed. It's gotten me though a very bad time in my life."

During Scott's short stay in the hospital, a nurse was asking why so many children were attempting to visit him. She then realized that Scott was once her teacher, too.

Five of Scott's more famous ties were auctioned to pupils at the assembly to raise funds for the new Sam Scott Memorial Fund. The Scooby-Doo and SpongeBobSquarePants ties were bought by pupils for about $20 apiece, along with Scott's popular M&Ms tie, which sold for $40. Afterward, every pupil was given one of his many ties in a brown paper bag.

Bill Rehrig, dean of students at Trinity, then proclaimed the next day "Mr. Scott Friday," declaring that the pupils may wear their new ties instead of their typical blue ones.

"Sam Scott was a very special man," he said. "He made mathematics and algebra come alive. ... He found gifts in the ordinary things in life."

Because Scott never had children of his own, his pupils became his children, Rehrig said. For many of his pupils, this was their first time dealing with the loss of someone they loved.

"Every kid walking down the hall would give him a high-five," he said. "That high-five turned their day around."

Scott, a jokester, once told his students that he was colorblind and unable to see red or green, making enjoying holiday decorations impossible. His pupils decided to write silly comments on the green chalkboard in red chalk, thinking he wouldn't be able to read them, which they later said they felt badly about. As they discovered, Scott wasn't colorblind.

Rehrig said Scott will be very difficult to replace.

Scott's are "big shoes to fill," Rehrig said. "He had such an impact. ... He was just one of those larger-than-life people."

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