UA community loses beloved third grade Barrington teacher Megan Fedorko.By Elizabeth Tzagournis
A valued member of not only Barrington Elementary School but the city of Upper Arlington passed away Nov. 29, leaving behind countless friends and family, as well as a classroom of third grade students.
Fedorko was known as “the caretaker” of the school, Barrington principal Jason Fine said, citing her positive energy and leadership.
“She made sure everybody was taken care of, [and] she was very positive,” Fine said. “[She was] the first person you’d see there with a smile waiting to greet her students.”
Senior Elise Poole, a former third grade student of Fedorko’s who maintained a friendship with her favorite teacher, also remembered Fedorko’s infectious smile.
“She was always happy and would come to class ready to make our day brighter and better,” Poole said. “She was always concerned about her students’ happiness and success inside and out of the classroom.”
Although gone, Poole said her memory of Fedorko will not soon fade.
“Mrs. Fedorko had a kind heart; she always put other people ahead of herself, whether it be her kids, her students, her husband, or her coworkers. I respect her so much as a person and a teacher,” she said. “She truly affected me in a way that no other teacher has.”
Fedorko’s role as that of a teacher, in addition to mother, wife, daughter and friend, is one that cannot be replaced, according to longtime friend and fellow third grade teacher Sarah Imes. Yet the school and community continues trying to fill the void that she left.
“You don’t realize what you do… but everybody has a piece in the puzzle so when you lose that piece it’s challenging,” Imes said. “You just take [it] for granted until it happens and then you really realize, ‘Oh, that’s what she did.’ We’re still stumbling into that on a daily, hourly basis.”
The family of Fedorko, the Barrington staff and students and the entire community responded with shock to the teacher’s passing, Fine said. Yet a prompt response by the school and community helped begin the healing process.
“This past summer [the district] went through TCIP [Traumatic Event Crisis Intervention Planning] training,” Fine said. “It creates kind of a checklist and guidelines for school officials to follow as we go through [a tragedy].”
The TCIP plan helped to minimize inconsistencies in explanations of Fedorko’s death to the students, Fine said, emphasizing a uniform approach that has been shown to be more beneficial for students dealing with the trauma of death.
“We really made a point to say the teacher had died. We don’t say that she has passed away or she just didn’t wake up. Death is a real word and it’s a conversation that has to happen with our students,” Fine said.
Fine further stressed the involvement of the UA community and its effect on the students’ and teachers’ healing process.
“[There’s been an] incredible outpour of support… the cards and the e-mails and the phone calls [are] in the hundreds,” he said. “It’s something I’ve always said: I don’t want to go through this anymore—I don’t want to go through the tragedies—but if I have to this is where I want to be, because this community is so incredible, and not just Barrington but Upper Arlington.”
Imes expressed similar views.
“The community has been amazing,” she said. “Upper Arlington has done a nice job being prepared for something that’s impossible to be prepared for.”
Imes’ relationship with Fedorko spanned nearly 12 years, as they worked together on lesson plans and activities for their third grade classes. Their relationship was personal as well as professional, and Imes said she considered Fedorko a close friend.
“For me the hardest hurdle is just everyday not seeing her,” Imes said. “You’re walking around missing a part of you… and [then] you take a step back … and you think about her mom and her dad and her children and her husband and how much they’re hurting.”
Despite the shock of Fedorko’s untimely death, Imes said the tragedy will not hamper the good memories that resonate with all who knew Fedorko.
“She loved teaching… Megan was a lifelong member of Upper Arlington,” she said. “We’re all devastated at the loss of her, but at the same time we have amazing, happy memories, so it’s nice to be able to laugh at the same time and think about the good things and the fun things that she contributed to our lives.”