This is from Victoria Gainey, the mom of Alex Gainey, a senior at . It was written Wednesday.
This morning, Alex called me at school at 8:15. He had just been told at the high school that his senior project facilitator, piano lesson teacher and project 'cheerleader' Ms. Sue Ellen Turner had passed away in the night. He was shocked and so sad because he was to present and play today at 4:15 this afternoon before the judges. She worked at the high school and the whole school was in shock and mourning.
Alex has Asperger Syndrome, ADD and auditory processing disability. Last August, he chose to do his senior project on taking piano lessons. He had seen research that supported that learning to play an musical instrument improved brain function and academics. He asked Ms. Turner if she would be his facilitator and teach him to play one song that he would then perform at his presentation. The song they both chose in August was "When the Saints Go Marching In."
And so every week until a month ago, Alex would go every Thursday for his lesson at her home. She became a wonderful encouragement to Alex in so many ways and she loved his ability to make her laugh, but also they enjoyed the deep talks about God, school, life.
And so today at school, Alex worked on and finished one more slide to add to his Powerpoint presentation for his project.
As he began this afternoon, the 2nd slide stated who his project facilitator was and tears welled up. The judges showed great compassion and asked if he wanted them to stop the clock. He said no...I'm going to honor Ms. Turner today.
He shared his research, his method of learning,etc. and then clicked to the last slide and there he thanked Ms Turner and honored her with words of love and gratefulness to her. Then he sat down at the keyboard and proudly played, "When The Saints Go Marching In."
Ms. Sue Ellen Turner: You will never be forgotten, but remembered for your faith in our Lord and the love you shared. You, sweet Saint of God have marched in—right into the beautiful presence and worship of our Savior and your Alex played with all his heart today thinking of you!
Amy Turcotte is the former female sports director for the Cherokee Fellowship of Christian Athletes.