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7 Days of Peggy: Remarks from the 2011 “Peggy Lillis Spirit of Community Award” presentation

In 2010, the staff of PS 198 responded to the loss of our mother by establishing the “Peggy Lillis Spirit of Community Award” given to the Kindergartner in each class who was the best school citizen.This year, Christian joined the school to present the awards, which he introduced with the following remarks.

Peggy Lillis Spirit of Community Award

On behalf of my brother and the rest of my family, thanks for inviting me to join your Kindergarten graduation. We are very touched by Ms. Morgan and the rest of the school staff and parents’ efforts to keep our mother’s memory alive.

For those of you who didn’t know our mother, Peggy Lillis was a Kindergarten teacher who worked for many years here at PS 198. In total, she spent twenty years working in public education, first as a paraprofessional and then as a teacher. As a single mother, she worked tirelessly to put herself through college and achieve her dream of teaching Kindergarten. I’ve yet to meet anyone that had a greater love for children. Throughout her career, she helped educate hundreds of students. Her only goal was to give them the best possible foundation so they would be lifelong learners and successful adults.

We lost Mom very suddenly last year to a clostridium difficile infection. In her memory, we have created the Peggy Lillis Memorial Foundation to raise awareness of the disease that took her from us. The teachers, staff and parents of PS 198 were instrumental in helping us to get the foundation off the ground. When she passed, we received dozens of cards and letters from students that she taught in Kindergarten who are now in 4th and 5th grade, as well as those she had taught last year. They have also created a warm and loving space for us to remember Mom doing what she loved most: teaching.

I truly miss calling her at night and hearing her talk about her class. She always had funny stories and shared her pride in her students. Nothing made Mom happier than knowing that her students were learning. Mom was most alive when one of her students, who had struggled with learning something, finally mastered their vocabulary or arithmetic.

Beyond teaching, nothing was more important to my mother than her family and community. Mom believed strongly in working together, and taking care of each other. Her fellow teachers told us how impressed they were with the way Mom organized her class and taught her students. During her career, she touched and was touched by hundreds of students.

In addition to our personal loss, the thing we’re most sorry about is that Mom didn’t have the chance to help educate all the amazing kids who are graduating today. So, I’m really glad to be here with you, celebrating this great milestone, and presenting the Peggy Lillis Spirit of Community Award to the students who most exemplify teamwork and good school citizenship.


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