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Honoring Ellen

Teachers are amazing! They have one of the most challenging Ellen and most meaningful jobs in the world.  Every day teachers help children navigate the path to adulthood and shape them in ways that often go unappreciated. This week, which is nationally recognized as Teacher Appreciation Week, the Rock Quarry Elementary School family had the opportunity to honor one of our very special teachers who passed away earlier this year, Ellen Rayfield Hardy.  Ellen devoted her career to enriching minds and shaping the lives of second graders.


Ellen's Family The ceremony honoring Ms. Hardy’s life was held at Rock Quarry and attended by her family, colleagues, and former students.   A newly planted Magnolia tree encircled with rocks, hand painted by students and teachers, will provide shade to an iron garden bench and an inscribed plaque. Guests also listened to these loving tributes from colleagues.

 From Laura Jockisch, principal of Rock Quarry Elementary School;


"Give thanks with a grateful heart. “It is a good and joyful thing Little Gem to always give thanks.”Isn’t that what you do when you receive a gift? You give thanks.

 Boys and Girls- what do you say when you receive a surprise or a gift? Thank You!

 We receive all types of gifts every day. Simple gifts AND extraordinary gifts…sky, sun, rain, flowers, trees, home, food, friends, school, teachers, students, families and faith.

 Together, we shared an amazing gift, the gift of Ellen Rayfield Hardy. Some of us enjoyed the gift of Mrs. Hardy as a teacher, and a parent. Others enjoyed the gift of Ellen as a colleague and a friend. As her principal, Ellen gave me the priceless gift of never-EVER worrying about a child that I placed in her classroom.

 As we remember all the gifts that Ellen gave to us, we want to honor her with gifts today. A bench and a tree surrounded with rocks were selected to greet student, teachers and families as they enter Rock Quarry Elementary every day.

 Let the bench serve to remind you to be still, sit and savor the blessings of this life. Take time for the little things and love those around you. Give thanks!

 The tree selected is a magnolia tree. A magnolia tree symbolizes dignity and nobility. The magnolia is a perfect symbol of womanly beauty and gentleness. A magnolia tree is evergreen ~ it stays the same all the time. Magnolia trees also have roots that extend to extraordinary lengths ~ the roots grow horizontally….reaching out and extending themselves. When I asked about the specific type of magnolia we selected, I found its name is a ‘little gem.’

 How fitting for Ellen- A gem indeed. Special, rare, precious… Ellen. Ellen is missed, but perhaps more importantly….Ellen was loved.

 For this, my heart is full. I give thanks with a grateful heart that Ellen is a part of my journey ~

and a part of yours!"


From Anne Gray, colleague and friend;


"Donald, Katelyn, and M/M Rayfield, I want you to know how much we appreciate you being here today. We know this is not easy but we hope it is another way you can see how much Ellen meant to us all. We have had occasion recently to take pause and reflect on our relationships here at RQ as that of a family. A family who supports each other in times of joy and in times of sorrow.

Ellen will forever be a part of this Rock Quarry family as will you all.

When we were deciding where to plant Ellen’s tree, we discussed several areas around the school grounds. The location that meant the most was right here, in the front of our school, raised up on this little knoll, where all could see, reflect and remember our beloved teacher and friend each day.

 A few weeks ago, one of our teachers, while standing outside Mrs. Jockisch’s office just happened to read a short passage hanging outside her door that few of us have ever really paid attention to or even noticed. Once read, we realized how perfect it was for this dedication. A simple, short passage that speaks volumes about our dear Ellen.


And it reads:

“When I die,
she said,
I’m coming back as a tree
with deep roots
and I’ll wave my leaves at the children
every morning on their way to school
and whisper tree songs at night in their dreams.
Trees with deep roots
know about the things that children need.”

So it is with much love, Donald, Katelyn and Mr. and Mrs. Rayfield, that we dedicate this tree in her honor with the words engraved on this plaque:

In Memory of
Ellen Rayfield Hardy
Rock Quarry Elementary
A teacher who inspired,
A friend who was loved"


Thank you Ellen, you were amazing!  Though we know we can't ever thank you enough, we can ALL take a moment during National Teacher Appreciation Week to share our appreciation for the special educators in our lives.

Laura Jockisch, Anne Gray & Amelia Pilsch