Earlier this month, an elementary school teacher in Georgia lost a battle with cancer. But, before she departed this world she found a way to help her students.
Tammy Waddell, a paraprofessional and teacher in Forsyth County schools, dedicated 25 years of her life earnestly educating children.
Unfortunately, due to the fatal disease, she couldn’t continue her mission.
Nevertheless, two weeks before she died, she told her son that she didn't want flowers at her funeral.
Instead, she requested for backpacks full of school supplies for needy students.
"This was just the kind of teacher she was, and this is a reflection of her heart. She was a teacher first, all the way," her cousin Brad Johnson told CNN.
Waddell’s friends, family and colleagues honored her poignant dying wish – and the isle at her funeral was lined with more than 100 backpacks full of supplies, donated in lieu of flowers.
Johnson shared the photo taken by McDonald and Son Funeral Home and Crematory, on Twitter and the gesture struck chord with thousands of people as the image was widely shared on the social media.
Around 100 teachers who had taught with Waddell, made sure to be there to deliver the backpacks and served as honorary pallbearers at her funeral.
Honorary pallbearers... Teachers who had taught with her through the years... pic.twitter.com/CyB2pBbBNy— Dr. Brad Johnson (@DrBradJohnson) June 19, 2018
Waddell, 58, had previously beat colon cancer but unfortunately it returned in August 2017. However, this time the doctors weren’t sure if she could fight the deadly disease any more.
Her colleagues and students recalled how great of a human being Waddell was.
"She made such an impact on me and taught me everything. I loved to see her welcome us to class and always bring a smile,"said one student.
"Mrs Waddell was my favorite teacher," said another.
"I couldn't have asked for a better mentor and friend," said a former colleague.
It’s truly heartwarming how the teacher even in death continued to serve by making lives of so many students better and easier.
An initiative Waddell set in motion before she left, soon draw attention of many as her cousin was contacted by a nonprofit organization Tes Resources that helps teachers around the world.
The organization also decided to honor Waddell’s selfless request with a donation of thousands of school supplies for Forsyth County students.
"I think the pictures have gone viral because her story touches the soul of humanity,'' said Johnson. “Her final lesson was to be of service to others. I would say her last lesson was well taught."
In fact, the funeral home continued to receive the donations even after the ritual was over.
"That day we received roughly about 130 backpacks filled with school supplies -- anything a student would need for at least half of the school year -- and they continue to come in," Paul Holbrook, a spokesman for the funeral home, told CNN.
Banner Image Credits: Pixabay