I already learned that it’s still hard dealing with the fact my mom isn’t here….I realized that the 2nd year without was a lot harder than I anticipated. Even knowing all that, I wasn’t prepared for the emotions that would hit me today returning to my middle school. As soon as my sister and I were out of middle school, my mom became an Algebra teacher there. Today they dedicated the Patricia Gotimer Memorial Garden in her name. The garden came about as an Eagle Scout project for one of her students in her last year of teaching; even leaving school at Thanksgiving, my mom made a profound enough impact on this young man that he took the initiative to build a garden for her at her school.
Even knowing that I’d see her friends, colleagues and some former students, I wasn’t prepared for all the feelings – and that became abundantly clear as I couldn’t even get through my short speech I had prepared without tears, lots of tears…
Mom, this one’s for you. You always loved seeing your students succeed and watch them do amazing things…well Tommy knocked this one out of the park. The old beat up courtyard that used to just be used by skateboarders, well now it’s a permanent place for you at ERMS.
It has been said, “Being a good teacher is a lot like being a good gardener. Good gardeners are optimistic and patient. They are able to see the potential in those struggling young seedlings and enjoy watching them grow, develop and bloom. They give special tender loving care to those few plants that are struggling and not thriving.”
East Ridge was a second family to my mom; both the staff and students. My mother’s best friends were some of you here today. You were her friends, confidants and family when Sarah and I grew up and moved out. For about 1200 Ridgefield students, she was their math teacher who loved to teach Algebra and she was so fiercely passionate about her students’ successes. For 15 years, she started the school year by decorating her classroom with students’ favorite numbers covered in pictures of things that were important to them. I imagine if she created her own, it would be the symbol for Pi, adorned with math symbols, a deck of cards, a picture of Sarah and me, a Yankees’ logo, pictures of the beach and flowers. When she wasn’t preparing class plans or grading quizzes and tests, she always loved to garden.
I can think of no better way to honor my mom than through this garden. It is comforting to know that there will still be a little place in Ridgefield for her even though she is gone. On behalf of my sister, Sarah, myself and our entire extended family, we want to thank everyone involved in making this garden happen. We would especially like to thank Tommy for his idea and hard work to create this lasting memorial for my mom and thank the entire community for the love you have shown us over the past few years.