Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Pierce City students pay tribute to beloved teacher

(The following is my column for this week's Newton County News, KY3, and KSPR.)

Over the past few years, social networking sites have become the bogeyman for everything that is wrong with America. People are spending so much time on them, the critics argue, that they are losing touch with their humanity.

Sometimes, though, social networking sites become evidence of the good that exists in our society.

Such was the case after tragedy struck Dec. 13 at an East Newton High School basketball game. A heart attack claimed the life of Pierce City High School girls junior varsity coach Doug Weatherly. The death, which came with no warning, traumatized the young girls who played for him and had been students in his junior high social studies classes.

It also was a shock to everyone else who was in the gymnasium that night.

Mr. Weatherly was only 44 years old, in the prime of life, and in the blink of an eye he was gone.

While I am sure the Pierce City school district provided counseling to any students and staff members who needed it, thanks to modern technology and the power of social networking, those who loved Doug Weatherly found a way to deal with their grief and at the same time to provide a lasting tribute to a favorite teacher and coach.

A tribute site, “Mr. Weatherly is the Best Teacher Ever,” has been set up on Facebook and in the days since his death, students and colleagues have left messages describing what he meant to them and relating stories about the man and the effect he had on the Pierce City School District.
Among the comments left on the site:
"During his funeral today his wife told us he was an organ donor. She said a friend had commented that she wished someone could have gotten his heart. Looking around the gym she knew that we all had a piece of his heart and asked that we all "pay it forward" for him. That is a great tribute to him."
"Coach, words can't describe what you meant to everyone. But to me you were an inspiration, a wonderful coach, and an amazing teacher. I will never forget you, I know you will be watching us as the season moves on telling Coach Perry they missed a box out or something like that, but you will never be forgotten.

"There will never be words to define Doug Weatherly. I am so blessed to have had him in my life. He has been one of my lunch buddies for 12 years and PCHS will never recover from losing him. I know I won't."
These sites have become a way for people to constructively deal with the loss of loved ones, but there is one thing about this site, which was created by Trevor White, that sets it apart from all of the others and makes it perhaps even more special.

This page, which Trevor created to honor his favorite teacher was created January 23, 2010... 11 months before Mr. Weatherly’s death.

Though the comments on the site have increased since December 13, dozens had already praised Mr. Weatherly.

We teachers are always told that we will never know how much of a positive effect we have had on our students’ lives. It is something that we have to accept as true, something that keeps us going. Thanks to a creative use of social networking, students, current and former, were able to pay tribute to a beloved teacher, taken from them far too soon.

Thanks to that site, Doug Weatherly had irrefutable evidence of the positive impact he had on a generation of Pierce City youth."

1 comment:

monika hardy said...

i have seen this over and over.

thank you so much for posting about it.

warm regards.