April 16, 2012

In 2010, the staff of PS 198 responded to the loss of our mother by establishing the “Peggy Lillis Spirit of Community Award” given to the Kindergartner in each class who was the best school citizen.This year, Christian joined the school to present the awards, which he introduced with the following remarks.


Peggy Lillis Spirit of Community Award

On behalf of my brother and the rest of my family, thanks for inviting me to join your Kindergarten graduation. We are very touched by Ms. Morgan and the rest of the school staff and parents’ efforts to keep our mother’s

PLMF Co-founder, Christian John Lillis, speaks to the 2011 PS 198 Kindergarten graduation

memory alive.

For those of you who didn’t know our mother, Peggy Lillis was a Kindergarten teacher who worked for many years here at PS 198. In total, she spent twenty years working in public education, first as a paraprofessional and then as a teacher. As a single mother, she worked tirelessly to put herself through college and achieve her dream of teaching Kindergarten. I’ve yet to meet anyone that had a greater love for children. Throughout her career, she helped educate hundreds of students. Her only goal was to give them the best possible foundation so they would be lifelong learners and successful adults.

We lost Mom very suddenly last year to a clostridium difficile infection. In her memory, we have created the Peggy Lillis Memorial Foundation to raise awareness of the disease that took her from us. The teachers, staff and parents of PS 198 were instrumental in helping us to get the foundation off the ground. When she passed, we received dozens of cards and letters from students that she taught in Kindergarten who are now in 4th and 5th grade, as well as those she had taught last year. They have also created a warm and loving space for us to remember Mom doing what she loved most: teaching.

I truly miss calling her at night and hearing her talk about her class. She always had funny stories and shared her pride in her students. Nothing made Mom happier than knowing that her students were learning. Mom was most alive when one of her students, who had struggled with learning something, finally mastered their vocabulary or arithmetic.

Beyond teaching, nothing was more important to my mother than her family and community. Mom believed strongly in working together, and taking care of each other. Her fellow teachers told us how impressed they were with the way Mom organized her class and taught her students. During her career, she touched and was touched by hundreds of students.

In addition to our personal loss, the thing we’re most sorry about is that Mom didn’t have the chance to help educate all the amazing kids who are graduating today. So, I’m really glad to be here with you, celebrating this great milestone, and presenting the Peggy Lillis Spirit of Community Award to the students who most exemplify teamwork and good school citizenship.

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1 Comment

  1. Carmela McCann says:

    Peggy Lillis loved family, community and her students. Her spirit still lives in the lives of the children she taught. The award created for her “The Peggy Lillis Spirit of Community Award” was and will be given to students who exemplify teamwork and good citizenship.

    I had the pleasure of being next door to Peggy in P.S. 198. When she first came to our school she took over a Pre-K class. I knew she was a great person from the first day I meet her. Her smile said it all. She was wonderful with the children and so happy to have her own class. When she was a kindergarten teacher we worked together closely. She always taught the children about treating others as they would like to be treated.

    Peggy was part of the PBIS team. She was new to the school and wanted to make a difference. Peggy had a part in helping to create positive behavior in P.S. 198. Rules were made for the whole school to follow. The students could be Safe, Outstanding, Attentive and Respectful. They can “SOAR” and then recieve a rocket for positive behavior.

    Not only did we share stories about our students, we shared stories about our families and life. Every morning we would share stories. As a Gym teacher I worked with her and her class in the mornings.

    When we lost Peggy I knew I had to help keep her spirit alive in her class. This was not an easy task. She had laid a great foundation in K-013. The day she passed the parents of her children were told. The next day her kindergarten class came to school with broken hearts. The whole day was spent talking, crying, drawing and writing about Ms. Lillis. She loved those children and they loved her.

    The rest of the school year was spent trying to keep Peggy’s spirit alive in class. Everytime something was taught I would think how would she present it to the children. A graduation performance that Peggy discussed with Bianca was performed at graduation. Teamwork, the class rocked.

    Ms. Lillis your spirit lives in the P.S. 198 community in our hearts and souls. We love and miss you!

    Carmela McCann