Speakers recall Derry Area teachers' influence on young lives
Derry Area School Board President David Krinock helped show that remembering someone who has passed away does not always have to be sad.
Krinock was among the speakers last week at the Derry Day of Remembrance service at the Atlantic No. 40 one-room schoolhouse.
Krinock recalled both Michael Shumaker, who taught high school math, and Ned Cecchini, who taught middle school science, at the fourth annual event for teachers who passed away while in service.
Shumaker died in 1989; Cecchini, in 1994.
“I owe a deep gratitude to Mr. Shumaker as a good teacher and a great guy,” Krinock said, adding that Shumaker had a way of always being in control of his students.
One day in Shumaker's classroom, Krinock had no lunch money and saw a fly crawl across his desk. The young Krinock nabbed the fly, and another student said he could earn $1 if he ate it.
“That was great because I could get two lunches,” he joked, as a meal cost 50 cents.
Shumaker watched Krinock eat the fly, then threw up in his wastebasket before he composed himself, grabbed Krinock by the scruff of the neck and took him to the principal's office.
Family members, friends, administrators and former co-workers laughed at the story in recalling the teacher.
The Rev. John Emigh of Derry United Methodist Church reminded with an opening poem and invocation that loved ones spend only a short time on Earth, and they must be remembered —whether in happy moments or sad — while continuing to move forward.
“We thank God for letting us share these precious souls with us for a season,” Emigh said.
Ned Cecchini's youngest son Nick said that as he gets older, he better appreciates his father's legacy as a teacher.
Thirteen years old at the time of his father's death, Nick Cecchini recalled his dad's years as a baseball coach. In one instance, despite a rain cancellation for the first meeting between Greater Latrobe and Derry, Ned Cecchini took a bat and ball out to the batter's box and smacked the ball out of the park.
“It just shows how much fun he was, always looking for the good in a bad situation,” Nick Cecchini said.
To remember Shumaker, his 10-year-old grandson Michael Shumaker VI recited the ways he was like the grandfather he never knew, including how he knew the importance of love, golf and good grades.
Family friend Bob Rumel, who grew up with Shumaker's son Michael, said the teacher was important not only to his students, but to the community.
“Michael Shumaker taught me without teaching,” Rumel said. “I'm a better dad because of it.”
In closing, Emigh dedicated trees in Shumaker and Cecchini's memory alongside others recognizing teachers in previous years. The flowering crabapples were planted along Route 982.
“We honor these teachers as they helped their students become tall, grow and reach for the light of knowledge,” the pastor said.
Stacey Federoff is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-836-6660 or firstname.lastname@example.org.