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AHS honors Mr. Pasley

Posted: Tuesday, Apr 1st, 2014

AHS held a balloon release in memory of teacher Mike Pasley.

AMBOY – Last week was a tough one at Amboy High School. The sudden death of AHS social studies teacher Mike Pasley, 47, was a shock to everyone and a reminder of the importance of living life to the fullest. According to those who knew Pasley, that is exactly what he did.

“Mike was truly just a good guy,” AHS Principal Joshua Nichols said when asked to describe his colleague. “He cared about the kids. He showed up to all their events.”

Although Pasley taught subjects such as history and world geography, he was also passionate about sports and even taught a sports history class at the high school. “He really loved sports and did some sports reporting for area papers,” Nichols said. “He went to all the games. And he talked to the students.”

Nichols recalled a conversation with one student who commented that Pasley would ask him every day how the baseball team was going to do this year. “Every day,” Nichols emphasized. “That young man said, ‘I didn’t get asked that on Monday.’”

Counselors were available at the high school on Monday to help everyone process the news. “It may seem like we were flooded with counselors but you never know what it’s going to be like,” said Nichols, who is in his first year as AHS principal. “Just having those people here was valuable. They’re a reassuring presence. If somebody needs something, someone is there.”

Organized through the Regional Office of Education, the counselors are available to any school requesting help. In addition, Nichols said Father Tom, pastor of St. Patrick Church, spent time at the high school on Monday and Sgt. Jeff Blake of the Amboy Police Department also visited with students during lunch and throughout the day. “I have been impressed with the staff, students, other outside agencies and schools who sent people here,” Nichols said. “We put out a call and we had 17 people in the building on Monday. It might seem like a lot but students knew they were around and it was reassuring.”

Nichols said the counselors were also able to point out small things that he would not have considered. For example, students said they felt very uncomfortable having class in Mr. Pasley’s room when all of his personal items were still there. “I would never have thought of that,” Nichols admitted. “So we moved the class - it was simple - we did it that hour and had classes meet in another room the rest of the week. Having people here thinking of those little things was very useful for us.”

Most of the AHS student body and many staff members attended Pasley’s funeral in Dixon on Thursday. Nichols said he was very impressed with the respect shown by students at the ceremony. “We took 200 students to the funeral and they did an amazing job. They were very well dressed and behaved as ladies and gentlemen,” he said. “The choir did a fantastic job on short notice and I really appreciate everything they did as well.”

After returning to Amboy the day of the funeral, a balloon release was held in the school parking lot. Despite strong winds and off-and-on rain, students gathered outside holding on tightly to red, white and black balloons. “It was a student idea,” Nichols said. “They asked if we could do that, so we began making phone calls. We’re very thankful to everyone who helped make it possible.”

During a school board meeting held that evening, Superintendent Jeff Thake pointed out that this is the type of thing people are not trained for or prepared for in many other walks of life and he commended everyone for their handling of the situation. “I saw 200 students go in and out of a church today and you could have heard a pin drop,” Thake said. “What impact does a teacher have on students? We witnessed that today at the funeral and last night when we were in line for two hours at the visitation. I couldn’t be any more proud of the high school staff, the students and the district for the way everybody has responded to our district in our time of great need.”

Nichols said Pasley, who taught in Amboy for the past 10 years, is someone who will truly be missed. “I saw him last on Thursday and we had a conversation that afternoon,” he recalled. “It was left with a ‘Bye, I’ll talk to ya later.’ But that conversation’s not ever going to be finished.”

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