Saturday, May 30, 2009

* Samantha: You Changed my World

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These 3 pages are scrapbook scans of pages I made for my memory book. The picture of Samantha in the dress was taken on her birthday. She is wearing her friend's dress. She'd changed into it minutes before the picture was taken. She thought it was "pretty." She hadn't remembered it was picture day, and she hadn't combed her hair that day, which wasn't uncommon. She was wearing denim bibbed over-alls, which was common. So, we combed her hair, and she thought she looked beautiful, of course I thought she was beautiful every day! The photo captured the biggest smile I'd seen her have. I know she felt pretty.

The story of losing Samantha can be found later in this post.

These scrap scans were made using pictures from that 3rd grade year. The picture of all of us together was taken outside. This was after we'd lost Sammy. We'd painted life celebration pictures, and had taped them to the outside of the building near the back doors. We'd just finished planting sun flower seeds, in hopes they would grow and welcome the kids back to school in the fall, in memory of our friend. And they did grow. And they were beautiful. I wish I could find the picture of them. They were so bright and huge!
I've always been glad that I am a "picture taker", documenting life. I'm so happy I have these pictures to help celebrate Samantha's beautiful life, and her friends.

They graduated from high school last year, and many of them are in college now. A few of them are married. One girl and one boy from the 3rd grade class ended up marrying each other!!!!

I can't wait to see what the future brings for each one of them as we keep in touch.

It's been 10 years since I last saw Samantha, but I can still see her big brown eyes.
Samantha, had just turned 9 years old.
Walking to school, crossing the street in front of the school, she didn't see the truck as she had stopped in the middle of the road to tie her shoe.

She had a bundle of dandelions in her had, she'd picked them for her teacher.
Her friends weren't with her at the time of the accident. She was all alone.
Her friend Aubry was with her earlier that morning while she picked the flowers, but then she said she was going to walk a "different way to school." She walked through the truck gate. She was planning to buy a drink from the fruit drink machine in the front hall area.
There wasn't a need for a crossing guard in the front of the school that year. The base children weren't suppose to walk outside of the trucking gate. They were suppose to walk through the back gate at the back of the school. How she slipped through we will never know.

The truck driver didn't see the little girl in the road. The truck couldn't stop.

I was Samantha's 3rd grade teacher here at Hill Field Elementary.

A friend drove me to Primary Children's Hospital as we watched the helicopter swiftly carry Sammy away from her school.

I stayed with her a couple of days until her parents could be contacted. They were having family challenges, and her mother had gone to visit family out of state that day. Dad was in distress and couldn't be located. Cell phones weren't as common as they are now, and neither of her parents had one.

Samantha had head trauma, she never woke up.

Too many memories of that day to tell.

That 3rd grade year was one we will never forget, for we endured many emotional times (that story is at the bottom of this post), even from the beginning of the year: I am still in contact with many of the children from Sammy's class. We have a bond that will last through the eternities. But, there is one thing that I do know: That moment changed my world. I am forever a better teacher and person. I miss you Sammy.

I visit her grave sight here in Layton Utah often. Sometimes I bring balloons or flowers. All of her family lives out of state now, I've lost touch with them as they have had many trials and have separated and challenging lives.

Each year I take my student's out to the memory rock. I thank our principal, and my forever friend Paul, for creating a place for us to remember Samantha. We had planted a tree, donated to the school by my sweet, dear mother. But, when the new parking lot was put in, the tree came out.

We talked about being safe around cars and trucks. We flew paper airplanes, laughing and smiling and celebrating where we are and where we are going. We celebrate friendship and caring for each other.

The 3RD GRADE YEAR that changed my life...
I love being a teacher... Each year has had its special moments.
One year stands out in my mind. It was 1998-1999. I had the humbling opportunity of teaching a beautiful group of 3rd graders.
During this year we suffered many great and tragic losses, and battled individual trials. But, in the end, we celebrate one another with great admiration and love, and feel the warmth of the Savior's love surrounding us.

Our memories, like our dreams, are ours alone and tell our story.

First came Shane, with his tosselled hair, and lonesome eyes. He and his dad lived together. He had a dog that had puppies. He shared his 5 puppies with us for show and tell. We fell in "puppy" love. Then 3 days later his home on the base burned down, all the puppies were lost in the fire. Shane and his dad were not hurt, but they lost all their material possessions and memories. We warmed one another with hugs and tears.

A few weeks later, I arrived to the news of Peter's greatest loss. His father's plane had crashed and burned on the salt flats during a test run. There were no survivors. Peter's dad had visited our class on a couple of occastions. Once again we warmed one another with hugs and tears, and we became more thankful for our family and the people we love and who love us.

Next came my ankle surgery and removal of a tumor. I was out for 2 weeks. The great blessing of having my sweet husband Dave and my sweet son Nathan sub-teach was felt as they held the children together through their feelings of loss. And... they questioned often "Will our teacher come back?" (My adorable daughter Andelyn has found a love of teaching too, and I have the greatest of family support from Chrissy, Kyle and Kychelle!)

Early in the spring I returned to the classroom. The traditional school group and individual pictures were taken. Aubrey let Samantha wear her "pretty dress." That's just one example of hundreds of how these children loved and served one another. It was a joyful time.

It was 3 days later that we lost our friend, "Sammy," the little girl who wore her friends dress. She was hit by a truck while walking to school. Once again we comforted one another with hugs and tears, and we learned how important our friends are, how much we miss them when they are gone.

We kept her desk just as she had left it, and we filled it with hundreds of written notes and promises "We will not forget you!" "You are loved."

We will never forget one another. I will never forget each of you. "You are my friend!"


Mr. Clark said...

We are changed by the kids we teach! And I am sure that MANY are changed by you. I remember very well my kindergarten teacher and how she has influenced my attitudes about school and myself.

I even just got a letter from a former 4th grade student in Wyoming who is graduating this year. It was nice to get!

Renee said...

OH Mrs Probert,
your stories from your 3rd grade year broke my heart so many sad things happened that year to make anyone break down, but you held strong for them students, I admire you for your strength and great love for the students.
Thank you so much for being the great teacher you are..

Aubrey said...

Mrs. Probert!

It took me awhile to look at my email and when i did i saw this! it is so beautiful! I got teary eyed just reading it remember all that we went through that year! Every year i remember her and wish that i was closer to utah. She will always be remembered especially since she was one of my best friends <3