The Octagon

Community mourns death of middle-school English teacher Lauren LaMay (video included)


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(Photo used by permission of Wong)
Lauren LaMay and friend Geoff Wong celebrate the Fourth of July during their trip to Europe in their hotel in Budapest, Hungary, overlooking the Danube River.

Middle-school English teacher Lauren LaMay died on the night of July 19 after collapsing in her kitchen. After CPR was performed on her, LaMay was pronounced dead at the hospital.

LaMay, who was in her early 60s, had just returned last week from a tour of Central Europe with her friend Geoff Wong.

She had been a part of the SCDS faculty since 1980.  

Currently, there are no definite plans for a memorial service, as most of her family members live on the East Coast.

LaMay’s impact reached generations of students, some of whom have taken to social media to express their sadness at her sudden death.

Julia Owaidat, ‘16, tweeted, “One of the best teachers and people you’ll ever meet. My heart goes out to her and her family.”

(Photo used by permission of Geoff Wong)
LaMay poses with a lobster in the Old Bell Tower Square of Munich on her trip to Europe.

Owaidat also posted on Facebook to talk about her beloved middle-school English teacher.  

“Before taking her class in the seventh grade, I didn’t know the first thing about constructing an essay,” Owaidat posted. “Not only did she teach me how, but she made it a passion that I still enjoy and will continue to enjoy forever.

“I think I speak for all of her students when I say she was truly loved and admired by all.”

Isabel Siragusa, ‘07, posted on Facebook, “Her passion for storytelling and her gentle spirit helped me become the writer, obsessive reader, and even actor that I am today.”

Other alumni who have posted about the teacher’s death include Alex Bushberg, ‘15, and Victoria Loustalot, ‘03.

Bushberg tweeted, “RIP, Ms. LaMay, best English teacher I ever had. I’ll never forget her amazing story-telling ability.”

And Loustalot replied to the Octagon’s breaking news tweet about LaMay’s death with “She forever changed the way I read, think, and write.”

Parents, faculty, and friends of LaMay also replied to the school’s Facebook announcement of her death.

Former drama teacher Corrine Cleary posted, “What a legacy Lauren has left. She has decades of students who became lifelong readers and thinkers due to her insightful guidance and tutelage.”

(Photo used by permission of Geoff Wong)
LaMay views a basement beer hall in Prague through the lenses of pretzel glasses while on her trip to Europe.

And former student Gradeen Maloney posted, “(LaMay) was with(out) a doubt, one of my favorite teachers throughout all of high school and college.

“Ms. LaMay was unbelievably kind, caring, compassionate, encouraging and helped me to develop a love of writing and continue to be passionate about reading.”

LaMay was known for reading aloud Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird” to her eighth-grade students.

She also set an example for many of them.

“(LaMay) was one of my first models for what it looked like to be a smart woman, a woman who thought about things and really felt literature as a real thing, as something important to life,” said Susan Harlan, ‘95, now an associate English professor at Wake Forest University in North Carolina.

Like the lawyer Atticus Finch, who is the hero of “Mockingbird,” LaMay had her own values and view of the world.

“I just knew that she wasn’t like everyone else, and she taught me that value – to be different, not to look or sound or act like the rest of the world,” Harlan said.

By Katia Dahmani

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4 Responses to “Community mourns death of middle-school English teacher Lauren LaMay (video included)”

  1. Sue Nellis on July 22nd, 2017 11:42 am

    Thank you to Katia and the Octagon for posting this article, but I want to particularly thank you for including Ryan Eytcheson’s poignant video. It brought tears to my eyes but also made me smile … “Mission accomplished” couldn’t be more accurate, although I wish the mission could have gone on just a bit longer.


  2. Daniel Neukom on July 23rd, 2017 4:50 pm

    What an interview. What a person! Country Day explained in 13 minutes.


  3. Hannah Smith on July 23rd, 2017 6:54 pm

    Lauren was one in a million — a beloved teacher and friend. Rest in peace, Lauren. You will be sorely missed.


  4. Anne Anderson on August 18th, 2017 9:13 pm

    Thank you Lauren & SCDS for a wonderful start to my teaching life. It was horrible to learn of Ms. LaMay’s death today but this Vimeo is a precious gift. She was kind, a great mentor to me- also shout outs to Barbara Ore, Sue Nellis & Sheila Hefty- I can look back on my career &’see where my love of TKAM, poetry & a playful spirit in the classroom were influenced by this irreplaceable educator. God bless & rest, Lauren. As was written, mission accomplished.


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