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‘Big smile, beautiful red hair and hugs’

Matthew Stavola places a rock around the flowering plum tree dedicated to his wife Lauren. Holly Glen Principal Karen Pontano-Crossley described how the late teacher touched lives in the community. PHOTO BY KATHY CHANG/STAFF

Holly Glen school honors late teacher Lauren Stavola

A flowering plum tree outside Holly Glen Elementary School now signifies the life of a beloved teacher who died in February.

Lauren Stavola was just 45 when she passed away after a long career at the school. She was known for her sense of fun as a special-education instructor and art teacher.

Lauren Stavola
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“Throughout Mrs. Stavola’s career at Holly Glen School, she touched the lives of so many in the community,” Principal Karen Pontano-Crossley said.

The school community – along with the Stavola family members Matthew, her husband, and daughters Marissa and Brynn – came together on April 28 to pay tribute to Stavola with an assembly and tree planting in recognition of Arbor Day.

“The tree planted is a flowering plum tree, which will continue to symbolize the love we have in our hearts for our fun-loving, creative former Holly Glen art teacher, Mrs. Stavola, who left us unexpectedly,” Pontano-Crossley said.

“Although we greatly miss Mrs. Stavola, we want this special event to be a tribute to her as an innovative educator,” she added. “As we stand here today, our hearts are still filled with sadness. However, knowing Mrs. Stavola, she would want today to be all about us and our dedication to education as a school community.”

The tree planted was donated by the Shaw family, whose matriarch noted how much the late teacher’s love of art education impacted her daughter Aubrey, a third-grade student at Holly Glen.

Among school educators and staffers who shared feelings about Stavola were autism department representative Julie Zavis and Pam Capasso, who represented the special area department. Students also offered their thoughts.

“Mrs. Stavola was a teacher who wanted all of us to express love for art through our work,” one student said. “We will always remember her big smile, beautiful red hair and her hugs in class.”

PHOTO BY KATHY CHANG/STAFF

 

At the end of the assembly, the fourth-grade chorus sang Stand By Me and staff, students and family headed outside to place decorated, colorful rocks around the plum tree.

PHOTO BY KATHY CHANG/STAFF
PHOTO BY KATHY CHANG/STAFF

Stavola’s husband placed a rock there that read, “In loving memory of Mrs. Stavola, beloved special ed and art teacher.”

PHOTO BY KATHY CHANG/STAFF
PHOTO BY KATHY CHANG/STAFF
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