Flowers Gauff helped students plant are reminder of beloved teacher

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 15, 1999

By DEBORAH CORRAO / L’Observateur / May 15, 1999

Last week the second-grade students in Shirley Gauff’s class at LaPlace Elementary planted flowers outside their classroom window.

Monday morning those flowers served as remembrance of their well-loved teacher killed in Sunday’s tragic bus accident.

LaPlace Elementary Principal Courtney Millet said the flowers are a perfect symbol of the 37-year veteran teacher’s sunny personality.

Millet said Gauff always greeted everyone at the school with a cheerful “good morning” when she arrived at work.

“She was always so happy, always smiling,” Millet said.

Millet said she was able to confirm the death of Gauff Sunday evening and worked with several teachers to contact all the teachers at LaPlace Elementary as well as the parents of Gauff’s second-graders.

The next morning she met with all of the students in the second-grade center as soon as they arrived for class.

“One of Mrs. Gauff’s students read an Amelia Bedelia book to the othersecond-graders,” Millet said. “The children say Mrs. Gauff liked Ameliabecause she would laugh out loud when reading the books.”Later in the day, the children were visited by two school psychologists in an effort to help ease the pain of the loss of the person who had been such a big part of their lives this school year.

Many of Gauff’s students were able to attend her funeral with their parents, but Millet said it would have been impossible to allow all of the faculty and students of the elementary school to participate in the services.

Friday Gauff’s students celebrated her life with a balloon release at a special schoolwide outdoor assembly at the school. Cards and anecdoteswritten by students and faculty members were read and given to members of Gauff’s family.

“The children were very upset,” Millet said. “We hope the ceremony willhelp in the healing process. But Mrs. Gauff will never be forgotten.”The school’s newsletter “The Tiger Express” was dedicated to the memory of Mrs. Gauff this week.It said, “We must take comfort in the fact that a part of Mrs. Shirley Gauffwill continue to live, reflected in the lives of all the students she has taught and guided at LaPlace Elementary School.”A bulletin board outside Mrs. Gauff’s classroom sums up her feelings toward those students. Bordered by silk flowers is the quote: “Children are like flowers. Each one brings beauty and uniqueness to our lives.”

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