Thank you to Chris Church and the Independent Newspapers for posting this lovely tribute to Mrs. Lemoi:
“Kiss your brain.”
“Try not cry.”
“It’s a great day because we make it that way.”
“We pick apples, not our noses.”
These are the witty and unique phrases that Pamela Lemoi taught countless students during her 12 years as a kindergarten teacher in North Kingstown. A North Kingstown Teacher of the Year in 2011, Lemoi died from cancer this month at age 56, and the close-knit school community is mourning the loss of a dedicated teacher known for her boundless energy.
“We entrust our children with our kindergarten teachers to educate and inspire them,” said Christine Marinello, whose daughter was a student in Lemoi’s classroom at Stony Lane Elementary School. “She loved every one of those kids that entered her classroom and she did everything she could to teach those kids in a half-day program, which is tough to do.”
Marinello said her family and the families of Lemoi’s former students are “all pretty devastated” with her passing.
Megan Reilly moved to North Kingstown with her family from Boston in June 2013, and her son was a student in Lemoi’s kindergarten class last school year.
She said she will never forget how kind Lemoi was to her and her family, making them feel welcome in a new community. That held especially true when Reilly’s father was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer and died on Christmas morning last year.
“She was so incredibly compassionate to me,” Reilly recalled, fighting back tears during a telephone interview Monday. “It made such an impact on me because she had only just met me. I felt like I had known her forever. She was like a second mother.”
In a letter to the community announcing Lemoi’s death, Superintendent Phil Auger described her as “an exemplary teacher in all regards and an outstanding friend to all who knew her.”
“It is hard to think of a teacher who has done more for the good of any school community,” he said.
Maria Leroux, another parent whose child was taught by Lemoi, described the former educator as an “amazing teacher” who had an uncanny ability to relate to kids with her beaming smile, infectious energy and unique sense of humor. She attended Lemoi’s funeral Oct. 20 and said the large number of attendees was a testament to how loved she was and the number of people she influenced and inspired.
“While it was heart-wrenching it was also inspirational to know how many people she influenced,” Leroux said.
“She was truly one in a million,” noted Stony Lane Elementary Principal Ed Ferrario.
He said Lemoi exemplified what the Stony Lane community is all about: family, dedication, commitment and putting the children first.
“She was a perfect example of always collaborating and rolling her sleeves up and pitching in,” Ferrario said. “She was totally invested in the school and the community.”
He said it wasn’t unusual for Lemoi to give her personal cell phone number to parents and often talked to them outside of regular school hours.
“All hours of the day, she would be on the phone with parents,” Ferrario said. “She was willing to put herself out there and help with any problems or adjustments that a family might have. We lost a true educator and a true person who was committed to her profession.”
Lemoi died Oct. 15. She was the daughter of Henry and Jean (Tassoni) Verducci, sister of Steven and Henry Verducci and mother of three adult daughters: Lauren, Alicia and Jenna.
In recalling Lemoi’s kindness and attentiveness, Reilly recalled how Lemoi pulled out all the stops when hosting a “Mother’s Day Tea Party” in her classroom for her students’ mothers last year.
Lemoi decorated her classroom and prepared tea, scones, cookies and brownies for the moms. Personalized laminated placemats were made for each mother, as well as aprons that Lemoi had her students create for their mothers, which featured their hand prints.
The Stony Lane Elementary School Parent Teacher Organization is seeking to honor Lemoi’s memory by creating a “memory book” for Lemoi’s family members and for the school that features pictures, drawings, quotes and other memories.
[Editor’s Note: Submissions will be accepted until March 1, 2015. We request photos of Mrs. Lemoi’s and short personal memories that you would like to share.] Those who would like to contribute to the project should send emails to email@example.com.