It was a somber evening in Acushnet on Monday, May 3, as a crowd of Ford Middle School employees and staff, as well as the family and friends, gathered around a young dogwood tree to honor Shane Martin, the beloved Grade 6 math teacher who recently lost his battle with pancreatic cancer.

One by one, Martin's colleagues stood behind a wooden podium and reminisced of the good times spent together. Martin meant the world to his students, his peers and anyone who had the privilege of knowing him. Martin was one of a kind in the world of teaching.

This would have been his 17th year as a teacher at Ford if not for cancer. Martin fought for the past year as hard as he could, but sadly, he lost his battle on Friday, April 30.

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As a tribute, family members, along with his community, attended a very special ceremony in which a tree was planted outside of his old classroom and can be seen from the front of the school for all to see. The dogwood will bloom every spring as a remembrance of Martin's impact on his students and peers. The tree was donated by family member Tammy Tisdelle and planted by Joe Cote and his Boy Scout troop.

Martin had a smile that could light up a room, a smile that won't ever be forgotten. At the base of the tree is a plaque that represents Martin and everything he stood for. It reads, "See Miracles In Life Everyday," which creates the acronym "SMILE" – something Martin stood for.

Photo Credit: Jill Lemieux
Photo Credit: Jill Lemieux

Superintendent Dr. Paula Bailey led off the congregation with a few opening remarks, followed by Martin's sixth-grade team, who shared memories spent together.

Following Bailey's speech, Principal Michelle Sylvia reminisced about Martin in a way that would be familiar to him: math. She used numbers such as 1988 (the year Martin himself was in sixth grade), 2004 (the year he became a teacher at Ford), 1,480 (the estimated number of students he has had since), and 7,360 (the estimated amount of people in the community who have heard about him), along with other fond memories of him.

Finally, Martin's daughter Hallie bravely sang a tribute to her father in front of the gathering, a song titled "Oceans" by Hillsong United.

The ceremony concluded with a balloon release in honor of Martin. He may no longer be a teacher at Ford Middle School, but his memory will forever be a lesson in the curriculum of life when it comes to kindness, making people feel included, and last but not least, his smile.

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