Those beyond our family and friends who influence us for the better usually come from stations above us, from parents, pulpits, legislatures, from the head of a classroom, from history. But it’s the ones who are with us on our level in our daily lives who can make the deepest impressions.
With our sister papers The Suffolk Times and The News-Review celebrating along with us our People of the Year this week, it’s significant that our choices of Emily and Dana Hallman should be honored so soon after the death of Clarissa Williams, who died too young from cancer at age 63.
Emily and Dana give so much of their time and effort out of the limelight to helping people and Clarissa was the same, helping and inspiring others — friends along with people she’d never met — as the letters to the editor that came in and continue to arrive testify to.
The first letter about her death was her own, written just a few days before she passed away. “I wish to thank all of my friends, customers, co-workers and neighbors for making me part of their families and lives,” Clarissa wrote.
She was a light that shone brightly to all who were fortunate to know her, if even just briefly. The Island is less without her.
Weeks before Superintendent Leonard Skuggevik was on the Shelter Island School payroll, he wandered the Island stopping in at stores and businesses to ask residents about the education students were receiving here.
He was determined to hit the road running when school opened in September with a sense of what people like as well as what their criticisms were of the district. True, he had something of a road map of how he would proceed based on the information he received during the interview process with the Board of Education.
But he wanted to gather his own information.
Mr. Skuggevik also showed up at numerous public meetings to introduce himself and to listen as much as to speak.
Now, six months into the job, as he has gotten his sea legs under him, he still wants to hear from the public. A survey on the school’s website at edline.net/pages.Shelter_Island_UFSD has several quick questions and affords an opportunity to write longer responses if people choose.
We encourage you — whether or not you have a student in the school, are a student, a teacher or staff member — to take a few minutes and respond. This is your opportunity to have an impact on the district’s future.