Memorial Gathering for James Lizardo

A Memorial Gathering for James
Saturday, June 3, 2017
10:00 a.m.
Robert C. Parker School
Dear Parker Community,
I am deeply saddened to let you know that James Lizardo, our beloved social studies teacher, passed away suddenly on Monday, May 29, 2017.  I am devastated to be letting you know this.  Our whole school community, all the students whose lives James touched, and his dear colleagues, friends and family will be deeply affected.
For middle school students and eighth graders in particular, the days and weeks to come will be difficult.  If your child feels he or she cannot attend school it’s OK to keep them home.  Others may have a strong need to be together and school is a good place for that.
As a parent, you may want to talk to your child about death because it impacts each person in different ways. How children react will depend on the relationship they had with James, their age, level of development, and their prior experience with death. Your child may appear unaffected, ask questions about the death repeatedly, be angry or aggressive, be withdrawn or moody, be sad or depressed, become fearful or scared, or have difficulty sleeping or eating. If they want to talk, answer their questions simply, honestly and be prepared to answer the same questions repeatedly.
We will plan a memorial service at school in the coming days and as the details take shape, I will let you know.
Our school is a loving and caring community and we will support each other in the best ways we can in the difficult days ahead.
With profound sadness,
Badger’s Parting Gifts by Susan Varley. It is a beautiful story of loss and how memories can help us heal.

3 thoughts on “Memorial Gathering for James Lizardo”

  1. Justin "JD" Devane

    Parents- being a student (and now a parent) that had a beloved teacher pass away over a break (Nan, Earth Science, late 90’s) just know this.. It sucks. Yes, that may be frank, it may be slightly uncouth, however, it’s fitting. I still vividly remember bawling my eyes out, not knowing how to feel but sad. What do we do when someone that we put our trust in, we confide in, we believe in to help guide us- suddenly disappears?

    We don’t know. There’s anger, sadness, confusion, more sadness, and an eerie atmosphere over life. However, there are some things that you/we can do to provide comfort (in addition to what Meg has brilliantly stated.)

    -depending on age, they may not have words to describe what they’re feeling. It’s okay. It helps when big kids (older siblings, older grade, parents,) help give them those words. Conversations that include your feelings or things they can relate to, describing what you think, can help with those (social modeling.)

    -Allowing them to talk about it, over and over and over again, until it makes sense or they feel better, or are able to handle it.

    -Letting them know that it’s okay to be sad/angry/etc. However, you will have to be there to make sure it’s channeled correctly (we don’t need anyone smashing windows or walls.)

    -Don’t let it be the elephant in the room. Death, in general, is not something that should be tiptoed around. We, as a society, tend to shy away from things that will stir up feelings that will make us feel anything but happy, or “normal.” I understand that there may be parents that feel that their kids are too young to know what death is. That’s okay, however using this as a teachable moment, will be a positive outcome to a negative event, and allows for a “safe” environment to explore these feelings. My 3 year old understands the concept of death, as we had a lizard that died, and his older brother said “she died. it means she’s not coming back, but its okay.)

    -Most importantly. Just be there. Silent companionship, to me, was (and is) the most important thing that I can receive. It allows me to know that someone is there if I need it, however they are giving me the space that I need. It’s the same kind of thing that allows someone I care about to simply sit in a room and watch a movie, without saying a word, and feeling comfort.

    If you need another book to help address this, The Tenth Good Thing About Barney by Judith Viorst is one that I’ve used with both my kids, and my students. I’ve ordered 2 for the school (assuming they don’t already have a few copies,) that I’ll drop off Friday afternoon.

    Remember, “My mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ To this day, especially in times of disaster, I remember my mother’s words, and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers — so many caring people in this world.” -Fred Rogers.

  2. John F Godson

    All I can say is that I am deeply saddened by James passing . It was a pleasure working with him on the Philadelphia trips .
    I will miss his warm smile and friendly wave , as I passed him on my way to work.
    Rest in peace,
    John F Godson

  3. Every year, Robert Parker eighth graders come to Chamounix Mansion for their school trip. Since 2006, when I began working at Chamounix, the kids and staff have stayed here for their annual trip to Philadelphia. It was through this trip that I met James.

    When I think of how we should be educating our children, I think of the special kindness, empathy and integrity with which James interacted with the students, and know that he was truly and educator. It was obvious through my own conversations and those with students and other staff that James deeply cared about how children learn. He was funny, he was smart, and he was so very kind.

    My heart is heavy. We at Chamounix Mansion will miss James immensely. I am so very sad.

    We are thinking of all of you.

    Abbe Harms
    Hostel Steward, Chamounix Mansion, Philadelphia

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