SUFFIELD TWP. — It has been eight years since Suffield Elementary School teacher Maryann Honeychuck died, but students still ask about her.
They see her face when they open one of a thousand books in the library. They read her name when they spend time in the school’s outdoor classroom, and soon they’ll see her enjoying a Scandanavian cruise with her husband Bob every time they enter the school and walk past the recently dedicated Robert and Maryann Honeychuck Media Center.
For the past 10 years, Bob Honeychuck has been periodically stopping by Suffield Elementary to drop off large checks in honor of his wife of 45 years. His first donation, which he made when Maryann was battling dementia in a nursing home, was between $10,000 and $12,000 to create the outdoor learning space and replace old benches.
“That was Maryann’s life. She used to take them outside to these old wood picnic tables and they were all ratty. She’d take the kids out there, and they loved it,” he said.
That donation was the first time Suffield Principal Shawn Bookman met Honeychuck, and said that not long after, he started coming in and asking about books, and never stopped.
District library media specialist Kris Baker estimated that Honeychuck’s donations have allowed the school to purchase over a thousand books for the school’s library. The first donation was used to purchase “The Little House on the Prairie,” one of Maryann’s favorite series, and how-to books about crafting, projects and putting on plays in honor of Maryann’s hands-on teaching style.
“She was just one of the most creative teachers I ever worked with,” former Suffield teacher Karen Shanafelt said. “When we taught fourth grade, we read this long chapter story called ‘The Cabin Faces West,’ and she wanted the kids to experience that, so we had a Pioneer Day. The girls wore skirts and bonnets and the boys wore big floppy hats and suspenders. They made candles and taffy and butter and all kinds of stuff.”
“She was a big lover of books and wanted to instill in the kids a love for reading,” said Joyce Lee, another former teacher.
Most recently, Honeychuck donated $50,000 to purchase about 200 Chromebooks to the school.
The technology purchase is also fitting of Maryann Honeychuck’s memory, as a former student Rachel Hunt remembers her as technologically advanced.
“I just remember she used an overhead projector. That was the coolest thing to me that instead of just a chalkboard she used a projector. It seemed very advanced," Hunt said.
Last week, Honeychuck visited Suffield again and was able to see the Chromebooks in use for the first time. In Denise Palmison’s second-grade class, students showed Honeychuck all the books they can read through their Chromebooks and showed him how they can play games to better understand math.
In Meaghan Rooney’s fifth-grade science class, he saw students use a program called Gizmo, which fifth-grader Paige Krynicky explained allows them to do online experiments.
“We use them all the time. I was one of the teachers who pushed for Gizmo and because of you we were able to do this. It’s made such a difference from them and for me,” Rooney told him.
Honeychuck said that he’ll soon be selling his 10-acre farm in Kent, and is planning on donating a large portion of the profits to the Field Local School district that will be dedicated to scholarships.
As Honeychuck left the classroom, he looked up and with a big smile and said “Maryann, you better be proud of me. You better be or I’ll punch you right in the nose whenever I get there!”
Reporter Krista S. Kano can be reached at 330-541-9416, email@example.com or @KristaKanoRCedu.