People often have special requests for when they pass away. Whether they want to be cremated or buried, where they want their ashes spread, what song they want played at the wake — but a teacher in Forsyth, GA, had a request that had nothing to do with herself. As selfless in death as she had been in life, Tammy Waddell requested that, in lieu of flowers, people spend that money on school supplies.
Before passing away on June 9 after a lengthy battle against cancer, Waddell ensured that those that attended her funeral knew what her wishes were. Waddell’s cousin, Dr. Brad Johnson, grabbed a picture of her funeral, showing just how much people listened to the late teacher’s final wish.
A row of backpacks filled with school supplies lined the aisle, ready to be donated to the school district and dispersed to the students that need them most. As Johnson explains in a tweet, there were “about 100 teachers” that “carried the backpacks out and back to their schools.”
For those who couldn’t make the funeral, Johnson provided the school’s address where supplies could be sent in Waddell’s memory.
According to a survey conducted by the U.S. Federal Department of Education, 94% of public school teachers pay for their own school supplies without reimbursement. While one might assume that pertains more to poorer regions, the survey showed that it didn’t matter where the teachers taught. They were still buying their own supplies.
The response to Waddell’s death stretched far beyond the funeral home and her own school district. Twitter users took to social media to pay their respects and much like the school supplies, the kind words flowed in droves.
This is the most beautiful, and most incredible thing I’ve ever seen. Your cousin was an amazing woman.— Katie Ward (@KatieKward) June 26, 2018
We are so sorry for your loss, and we are inspired by the legacy she leaves.— edutopia (@edutopia) June 19, 2018
I didn’t know her. But I was very moved by your post. She’s left an AMAZING LEGACY-in her community. She was a “teacher’s teacher” leaving lessons for all of us-even after she’d gone; I’m sure her memory will live on for generations. Amazing story. Thank you for sharing!— Norma Palomarez (@Bugsnflowers) June 21, 2018
If you want to know how people truly are pay attention to what comes from their heart. May she Rest In Peace well-knowing she did good for all of those surrounded by her love in her community.— Erica Hernandez (@mzz_hernandezz) June 25, 2018