Smithtown West High School staffers and students are mourning the loss of beloved social studies teacher Greg Sill, who passed away unexpectedly on March 26, just five days after he turned 48.
But they’re also working to keep his memory and legacy alive.
“He taught people how to deal with adversity and handle the challenges that life presented,” said the school’s principal, John Coady. “He taught beyond the classroom. He made history meaningful, relevant and fun to our students.”
A GoFundMe page was created by his partner, Elizabeth Sill, to raise money for what’s now called the Greg Sill “Be the Coffee Bean” Memorial Fund.
“In order to continue to have the world experience the goodness that is Greg Sill, I have created this memorial fund,” Elizabeth wrote in the GoFundMe post. “The goal is to use the funds to provide scholarships to students who exemplify the Greg Sill life: goodness, positivity, and kindness.”
In her post, she expresses her love for her late partner and the impact he had not only on her and their daughters, but on the Smithtown community and his students as a whole.
She wrote that Greg was very passionate about teaching and taught his students about “positivity and positive actions.” He especially had a special place in his heart for his English Language Learners, and “went out of his way to make sure they were involved and obtained as much knowledge as possible.”
Funds will also be donated to charitable organizations, she wrote, and she and her supporters are in the process of turning the memorial fund into a nonprofit organization.
“The reason for this fund is that Greg and I spoke often of our lives in the next few years and we wanted to ensure that philanthropy was an integral part,” Elizabeth said.
“With his passing, this will set us back a bit, but I am hoping with donations we can start to fulfill his dream of helping others.”
Elizabeth says that her goal is to “make sure that his name continues to be spoken, and that it brings as much joy as the person he was.”
“‘Be the coffee bean’ was not just something Greg said to his students, it was something he embraced and encouraged his students to contemplate,” Coady also said.
To fully understand the metaphor, watch this Ted Talk (12 min).
Click here to donate to the memorial fund.
Top: Photo of Greg Sill courtesy of the GoFundMe page.