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FSSD remembers beloved staff member

The Franklin Special School District issued the following letter Tuesday to parents regarding the loss of a respected, long time teacher assistant at Poplar Grove Elementary School:
The Franklin Special School District is saddened to report the loss of a beloved family member. Dale Ward, a full-time computer lab teacher assistant at Poplar Grove Elementary, passed away in the evening hours of Monday, January 20. Mr. Ward had been in his present position at Poplar Grove since August of 2012. However, he joined the FSSD as a part-time assistant at Franklin Elementary School in 2003, where he remained for nine years prior to transferring to Poplar Grove. The move enabled him to spend more time with his wife, Renee, who has served as Poplar Grove’s librarian since the school opened in 2000.
Mr. Ward was deeply respected by both school faculties, who have shared countless stories of his generosity and service. Even before he was officially hired by the district, Dale was a full-time volunteer at Poplar Grove, helping troubleshoot computer problems and pitch in wherever help was needed.
“Mr. Ward’s passion was working with people,” said Director of Schools Dr. David Snowden. 
“At both Franklin Elementary and most recently at Poplar Grove Elementary, he was dedicated to helping faculty and staff to enhance learning through the use of technology. His spirit of volunteerism and giving back to his community will be deeply missed by everyone who had the privilege of working with him.”
Poplar Grove Elementary Principal Alisha Erickson notified faculty and staff Tuesday before school began. 
“Mr. Ward had been a treasured member of the Poplar Grove faculty, and has been in our hearts since he first came to our school as a volunteer in 2000,” Erickson said. “He came ready and willing to help open this school with a servant’s heart – never requesting compensation for the thousands of hours he spent in service to the students, faculty and staff.”
A phone call and email was sent to families Tuesday to request that parents share the sensitive information with their children, as they deemed appropriate, and on Wednesday each classroom teacher provided an opportunity for a short class discussion about Mr. Ward. Extra counselors were on hand to provide support for students and teachers who needed extra time to express their feelings.
A few colleagues shared their memories and thoughts about Mr. Ward in addition to the letter submitted to parents. 
“Mr. Ward was a member of Franklin Elementary staff for over 8 years. He was a man with a big heart for children,” said Dr. David Esslinger, principal of Franklin Elementary.
“In his job as a library assistant, he had a way of making each child feel like they were the best reader in the world no matter their ability. He was an integral part of the reading program at Franklin Elementary and was loved dearly by the students and our faculty.”
“I met Dale 11 years ago when he volunteered full time at Poplar Grove School,” said Lee Kirkpatrick,FSSD Student Support Services Supervisorand former Poplar Grove Elementary principal.
“He was an incredibly giving and caring man who continuously reached out to Poplar Grove students and staff. Two years ago when Dale was able to transfer into a computer lab teaching position at Poplar Grove, he enthusiastically took on the task of building a meaningful curriculum that would benefit and challenge all students. Dale cared about his colleagues and didn’t shy away from showing it by cooking and bringing special meals to celebrate birthdays and other eventful occasions. Dale’s kind and gentle spirit will be greatly missed, but his positive impact in the lives of children will be long cherished.”

Posted on: 1/22/2014


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