VACAVILLE (CBS13) – A moving tribute was given to a Vacaville teacher that will keep her image and spirit alive for years to come.
After losing a battle with cancer last year, a first grade teacher at Markham elementary school is being honored with a special mural on campus, students and faculty say her joy and patience – and push to help students learn a second language – is what makes her a teacher they’ll never forget.
“Dear Mrs. Starr, I miss you so much, but I know you are in a better place with the butterflies because I knew you loved butterflies,” said sixth grader student Camila Escalante
For Escalante and many of her fellow students, Mrs. Starr is a teacher and mentor they won’t ever forget. They wrote letters to their first grade teacher who they credit with making them better students and people.
“When I started first grade you motivated me to read, I didn’t like it but when you encouraged me, I loved it, now I’m a wonderful reader,” says student Ashley Martinez.
Breesa moya agrees. “she showed me that I have to be an awesome, intelligent and caring student and I really admire her.”
“One thing that she taught me was to have courage for myself,” says 6th grader Kaden Huerta,
After a 7-month battle with ovarian cancer, longtime Vacaville teacher Ann Marie Starr passed away last April. In an effort to honor her legacy, a mural was proposed at Markham elementary.
Noted artist Malaquias Montoya designed and supervised, friends and family helped.
Last week students gathered outside their classrooms as the mural was dedicated to Starr, who the school describes as passionate about reading and helping every student understand their worth and potential.
“she would take these kids who don’t even speak English and she would be right there with them holding their hand and walking them through it, and I never heard her complain about it,” said fellow teacher Laura Vanhoy.
Following the dedication, a smaller ceremony took place after school with teachers, family, and friends remembering Starr, now immortalized, surrounded by animals, her beloved butterflies, and birds and most of all her students.
“We’ll never forget her because she’ll always have a place in Markham,” said Escalante.
Along with the mural, the school has set up a special award for all first grade students who read 50 books throughout the year.
The students will get a certificate of honor and a necklace with artwork designed by Mrs. Starr.