This post is going to be a little more serious and heartfelt than my usual ones (just to warn you guys before you start reading).
This past Friday, January 24, 2014, while enjoying a dinner out with my parents and siblings, I received a rather upsetting email on my phone which read:
“It is with great sadness that we inform the Havergal community of the death of Mr. David Sumner. Mr. Sumner passed away peacefully surrounded by family on January 24, 2014 after a courageous battle with cancer. As we mourn together as a community, our thoughts and prayers are with Mr. Sumner’s family and friends.
Mr. Sumner joined Havergal as a teacher in the Social Sciences and Technological Education departments in 1999. Since receiving his cancer diagnosis, Mr. Sumner continued to be an active member of the school community, as he has done for so many years, teaching, coaching, mentoring and supporting students.”
I had the great pleasure of being Mr. Sumner’s student for three years during my time at Havergal and have many fond memories of his classes. I remember his Grade 11 Communication Technology class, which involved making, watching, and analyzing films. During one class he played the movie Psycho and while everyone was screaming at the shower scene, Mr. Sumner and I laughed. I also remember him assisting me while I edited my group’s movie alone, and telling me, “You have a real knack at film editing, Nicole. You should consider becoming a film editor or something involving movies in your career.” I’m grateful that I decided to take that course; grateful that he opened my eyes to a new skill I possess and a love of film I never thought I’d have.
Here’s a picture from a note he left in my yearbook of that year:
I also remember his course IDC4U, Education Towards a Changing World. Mr Sumner structured this course with discussions, article readings, essay writing, watching films, and reflecting in a journal. The journal for that class is still with me and will be cherished. I don’t think I’ve realized this until now, but he was always a strong believer in my abilities. After looking through the comments he made in my journal, he encouraged me to not fear my opinions and thoughts, and voicing them to others. He also appreciated my safe presence at the table and energetic attitude I brought to class each time. The last reflection I wrote in my journal for that class was about the true meaning of the course.
Below, he wrote this comment: “Now its time for you to take action! Stop by Havergal and let me know how everything is going. See you at the next crossroads.”
After reading the email that night, I was upset. I did cry for a long time when I got home in my room alone. I am sad that he’s gone. However, this just shows how much of an impact he had on how I viewed my education, my creative abilities, my interaction with other people, and the world. He will always have a place in my heart as the teacher who had my back and believed in me.
Thank you Mr. Sumner! You will be missed by many ❤