The school community came together Thursday night to grieve together and share some memorable moments. Our Iris St. Meran tells us the impact she had on some of her former students.
CHITTENANGO, N.Y. -- For many of Colleen Hyland's current and former students she was more than just a social studies teacher.
Former student Morgan Shoemaker explained, "She was more of a best friend than a teacher. She always kept in touch with all her students and when she saw you, she would be like 'hey.'"
In the classroom, she brought passion with the lessons she taught and was known for making learning fun by dressing up in different historical costumes, including a pirate.
"I can't thank her enough for the memories she gave us. It was amazing," said another former student Christian Cerio.
Recalling these special moments are just one way her students and colleagues are trying to heal. Everyone who knew her said she made them feel special and she truly cared about everyone she came into contact with. That fact is what makes this loss, in particular, tough.
"It was so hard to believe, so hard to take in. It's still taking a toll,” Cerio added. “It's going to keep doing that and it's just so tough to know that she's gone and I won't be able to see her again. But she's always in my heart."
And it wasn't just her students who felt this way, but her colleagues as well. One person who worked with her for ten years and said she enjoyed learning as much as teaching and she passed that love for learning on to others.
Colleague Arnie Merola said, "Colleen was someone that started chain reactions. Those chain reactions and those chain reactions continued to move on and on with students as they left middle school and went on to high school. She had a special way of touching people's hearts."