By Griffin Johnson and Chris Wood
On May 11, 2014, the Jamesville-DeWitt community suffered the loss of María Sahyoun, 61, a beloved Spanish teacher who was a member of the J-D community since 1994.
For years, Señora Sahyoun touched the lives and hearts of her fellow teachers and students. Peter Crossett, senior, had Señora Sahyoun for his junior year of Spanish and also was in her homeroom throughout his high school career. “She was always there for her students. In homeroom she would pull me aside and ask me how I was doing every once in a while,” said Crossett. “Señora was not only a teacher to me, but also a loved one,” said senior Samantha Williams. “Losing close relatives throughout my entire life has been hard, so I always looked up to Señora as an elderly figure. She was family to my siblings and I. Her death came as a shock to all of us, but I know she’s in a better place now,” said Williams.
Everyone who was interviewed kept touching on the great qualities that Señora Sahyoun had: she was caring, loving, dedicated, and incredibly generous. “Señora was always a person who could be there for you when you needed someone to talk to, and she always knew how to put a smile on your face and she always had a way of making everyone feel super special,” said senior Tessa Yu. Health Teacher Melissa Moore said that Señora Sahyoun was “a kind, caring and dedicated teacher who will be greatly missed.”
On top of her personality, her work ethic influenced everyone around her. Fellow Spanish teacher and long-time friend Henry Cline noted this. “She was an A plus colleague; she worked non-stop. She would come at six o’clock in the morning, always researching new material. She was so into being a great teacher and she did it because she loved her students and there’s no doubt - (when) you see someone put that time in (it’s) because of true love. She instilled that work ethic into the students; it was infectious. She held you to a higher standard and pushed you that little bit,” said Mr. Cline. Simone Pacilio is another fellow Spanish Teacher who was very close with Señora Sahyoun and influenced by her work ethic; “she was teaching me to be a great teacher,” said Señora Pacilio.
What will Señora Sahyoun’s impact on the Jamesville-DeWitt community be? “One of the things that I remember was that on the day that she passed, there was an article in the newspaper in the sports section of the Post-Standard about retiring numbers and how the Yankees were going to retire number six and then number two would be next. And the whole thing about how it’s symbolic of excellence that can't be duplicated or recaptured. I said I thought that G08 (Señora Sahyoun’s room) is a room that should be retired,” said Principal Paul Gasparini. “Because when you walk into that classroom I can't remember a classroom that was more reflective of A: a teacher’s personality, B: a teacher’s depth of interest in learning and of things of the world and C: a classroom that truly transported students into the world of learning and of culture and the world of Spanish,” he continued. One of things that Señora Pacilio noted was the Joey Montana song that was constantly playing in her room. “That song will always live in her memory,” she said.
Whether it was remembering what a student wanted to major in, or buying a holiday present for a faculty member, Señora Sahyoun has left a gaping hole in the J-D community. “You can never replace Mrs. Sahyoun,” said Principal Gasparini. Mr. Cline, who referred to her as a second mother said, “I know on a daily basis we stop and think she’s not here and she’s not coming back. It’s hard to really fathom that we lost her.”