She saw something in me that I couldn’t see. Without her caring as much as she did and without her help, who knows where I would have ended up... – former student
Following extensive work with adults with mental and physical disabilities, Deborah Kasprzyk was a special education teacher at Pine Trails Elementary School (Allegan, MI) for 23 years. Originally from Chicago, Il, she was a graduate of Illinois State University and Grand Valley State University. Quiet and short, slow and steady, she was a powerful, brilliant, and extremely memorable human of profound proportions in the Allegan community and beyond. Stories can be offered by both those who knew her for decades, as well as individuals who interacted with her for a few passing moments. She touched the lives of not only the countless youth she educated formally, but also all who came in contact with her.
It is impossible to summarize her teachings and accomplishments. A tireless advocate for all in need, she provided food and comfort to students who could not obtain it elsewhere, continued informal education in her home throughout summers, and always ensured gifts of all kinds had a positive and educational component. She was an underdog who stood up for other underdogs; she believed our only disability is a lack of ambition. She taught us to love all the people of this world, unconditionally.
A breast cancer survivor, “Mrs. K” passed on May 30, 2007 due to a pancreatic islet tumor at the young age of 53. In her honor, one views all as equal. Supporting those in need, regardless of who they are or any other circumstances, cultivates an environment where they may surpass their goals and in turn, help others. While this inimitable educator of many is not the only individual who passionately acts on such views, it is clear in 2017 and beyond, that every effort to support similar endeavors is essential.