The following is the eulogy that Gary Raymont delivered at Elena's funeral
one month ago tomorrow. It is reprinted with his permission.
For those of you who do not know me, I am Gary Raymont and I am a member of the outstanding staff at Boulevard School. I am one of the Kindergarten teachers at Boulevard and last year I had the honor and privilege to have Elena as one of my students.
Before I start sharing my favorite memories about my little girlfriend
(which was my nickname for her), I want to say thank you to 3 special people.
First of all I want to say thank you to Maggie, Elena's big sister for being just that, her big sister. Maggie, Elena would often draw pictures of you and her during choice time and in her journal writing activities. She may not have said it often Maggie, but Elena loved having you as her big sister.
Maggie, here is a poem you wrote about Elena, when you were in Mrs. Rimedio's Kindergarten class:
"Elena, bad sometimes, but we always love her."
Maggie you are now a 4th grader at Boulevard, and all the teachers and staff want to say thank you for being that big sister to your little sister Elena.
2 other people I want to personally thank are Elena’s Mom and Dad.
It took me almost 5 months to figure out who Kim and Daniel where, because I always called them Elena's Mom and Elena's Dad. Just a few Fridays ago Elena's Mom was in my room getting ready for Girl Scouts and I said, "Hey Elena's Mom. What's Shaking?"
Kim, I want tell everyone what you told me what was shaken, that will be our little secret.
Every year when a classroom teacher receives a brand new list of students, we all hope to have parents in our room like Elena's Mom and Dad. Parents who understand the developmental stages
of young children, parents who are caring and loving to their children, parents who realize the importance of schooling, and parents who realize that their children do get themselves into trouble sometimes.
On behalf of myself and all the teachers and staff at Boulevard School we want to thank you for being wonderful and supportive parents. And thank you for allowing the Boulevard School Community to have the opportunity and privilege to educate your 2 beautiful
My first encounter with Elena and her family was when Maggie was entering Kindergarten. Maggie was assigned to Mrs. Rimedio’s. We think Elena was around 2 years old when Maggie entered school. Even back then our Elena knew what she wanted. I never saw Elena holding anyone’s hand. Elena took full control whenever she walked into Boulevard School. Whenever I saw Elena, her mom and dad or Maggie where always following her. Even at 2, Elena had full control of the halls of Boulevard. I would say to myself, who is this little spitfire.
Well I found out a few years after Maggie entered Kindergarten, because it was Elena’s turn to start school. Before school started Peg and I went to look at our class lists to check out our new kids, Boy was Peg upset when Elena’s name was not on her list, she wanted Elena really bad, but Elena was all mine.
In Shaker The Kindergarteners start school with transitional meetings for 2 days. Elena’s mom was assisting us last year as the parent volunteer making sure no one came down our wing until it was their scheduled time. She took her job very seriously. Elena’s mom has had this job for several years now.
Elena’s mom took her job very seriously and she takes no prisoners. One year we had a staff member whose child was starting Kindergarten in our building. Well this mom and child started walking down the Kindergarten wing and Elena’s mom stopped her. The staff member said it was all right because she was a teacher here. Well Elena’s mom said, Well Ms. So and so today you are a Kindergarten Mom and you must stay with me so please came back with me with me now. You go girl! Score one for Elena’s Mom.
When it was Elena’s turn to attend her meeting with her mom and dad, only dad was there. That’s the first time I officially meet Elena’s dad. Elena’s mom did not attend this session because she volunteered to assist with the Kindergarten orientation. She was in the building helping other Kindergarten moms and dads dealing with their nervousness and stress. Elena’s mom is always looking out for other people. When it was Elena’s turn for her meeting, this little girl walked in my room like she was 5 feet tall. She walked in and took charge and started to play with the other children in the room.
All of last year Elena was at table 3 with 5 other children. I never had to go to that table to see if the children understood the directions because I had Elena there telling everyone what to do. I often called her my student-student teacher, because I had Mr. Philbin as my real student teacher and Elena was his back up.
Sometimes Elena was the last one to finish her work because she was organizing what everyone was going to do at choice time or recess time. I keep on saying, "Elena use your time wisely," or "Elena don’t worry what your neighbor is doing concentrate on your own work."
Elena was a talker and always said what was on her mind. What I love about 5 year olds is that they love to kiss and tell, their teachers what is happening with their brothers and sisters and their parents. Elena’s mom and dad, boy do I know a lot about what you guys do at home. My lips are sealed.
Over the course of her Kindergarten year, The Kindergarten Team had the pleasure to watch Elena blossom into a reader and writer. Elena had a heart of gold and was always telling what I should be doing or what other children should be doing. I remember one day, I asked her if Dr. Kimberly put her on the payroll and was in charge of the room. Her response was "NOT YET!!!!"
"Well until that happens I am still in charge and let me make the decisions."
"OK," she said.
I can’t tell you how many times Elena would do or say something and I would hear Elena’s mom call "ELENA," in that special way mom’s have saying "you don’t say or do that."
I loved conference time with the Steinberg’s, because mom or dad would always bring me coffee. So future moms and dads it you want to stay on Mr. Raymont’s good side I take a large coffee with 5 sugars and cream.
I have a tendency to give my kids in my room special nicknames, Last year I had Jack Be Nimble and Sophie Wophie, Peter Peter Pumpkin Eater and GIRLFRIEND. Well Elena was my little girlfriend, mom got Jealous so I told Elena that her mom was my Big Girlfriend and she was my little girlfriend.
One day after school Elena had a head scratcher where I had to sit down outside on the ledge and get my head massaged. After a few minutes Dad would say OK Elena it is time for Mr. Raymont to go, Elena’s response was no not yet he needs a few more minutes.
Elena’s mom and dad always wanted to keep Elena busy. There where many after school activities. My favorite one was when Elena was playing soccer. I just had to laugh to myself wishing I could see this little girl with a big heart running up and down on the soccer field.
A tradition that occurs when any of my former Kindergarten students come visit me as First graders is to answer these questions when they visit. "Who was your favorite Kindergarten teacher? Who taught you how to read? Who taught you how to write? Who got you ready for First grade?" The answer to these questions is "Mr.Raymont". Elena was the first, First grader to come down this year.
One day this year Elena and a few of her friends decided to go play somewhere else besides the playground. Pretty soon I saw Elena’s mom and another mom looking frantically for their kids, we did an all school call for them in the building and still could not find them. Well a few minutes later all parties where together again. When I asked what happened, Elena was the first one to say, "It wasn’t my fault" They made me do it.
Since Elena’s passing, I sit back now and laugh and cry about all the fond memories I had with her. This spunky little girl was loved by everyone she came in contact with. I talked with one Elena’s friends who was very sad about what had happened. We went for a little walk and then I held him on my lap and we just talked about how much fun we had with Elena. You know Mr. Raymont I hope I can remember Elena for a long time, I said you will honey. We will always remember Elena forever and ever. To my little GIRLFRIEND, good-bye, I love you and I will treasure the time I had with you.