By Jessica Sacco email@example.com
April 08. 2015 1:33PM
Beloved teacher Eason is honored
A former Melrose High School teacher may be gone, but her memory will forever live on through the achievement of her students.
The family of Susan Eason is finalizing a scholarship in memory of the longtime science department head after her passing this winter. The well-known educator spent almost 40 years at MHS, dedicating her entire career to helping Melrosians grow and excel in the classroom.
Eason died in February at the Melrose-Wakefield Hospital after her second breast cancer diagnosis.
Her death, which happened just days after doctors informed her the cancer had returned (she’d previously gone through treatment in 2009), shocked family members.
“My mom was only 62,” daughter Christy Eason said. “It was very much unexpected. It was the last thing that anyone had expected when she went to the hospital.”
In the days following her death, Christy, who had attended Melrose public schools with her sister Danielle since the first grade, had a thought — a way to remember the kind-hearted Eason who had touched the lives of so many students and colleagues.
Through the Melrose High School Permanent Scholarship Fund they’d secure money for one graduating senior each year that is interested in majoring in education or science.
The Susan C. Eason scholarship will range from $400-$500. It will not be awarded to the expected straight-A student, but rather one who shows a passion for learning and who may have had a bumpy road throughout the year but never gave up.
“We wanted to make sure the scholarship didn’t go to that all-star student, but that it went to that student who maybe did struggle a little bit [because] my mom, she really reached out and helped students who maybe no on else was willing to put the time in [for],” Christy said.
In order to ensure the scholarship fund can continue annually, the Eason family needs to raise $7,500 to be placed into a trust. So far Christy said they’ve collected about half the funds. (See box for donation details).
A Malden native, Eason first started at MHS in 1974 as a biology teacher, having earned a degree at Merrimack College. By 1997, she’d worked her way up to head of the department where she remained until she retired in 2011.
Eason closed out her career teaching anatomy and physiology, and never once wavered in her commitment to helping students succeed.
Former MHS math teacher Maureen Hatch, who was one of Eason’s closest friends outside of the classroom, remembers her as an educator with a wonderful sense of humor that made science fun for students.
Colleagues respected Eason for her intelligence, dedication and hard work. She held children to high standards, but made sure she always provided them with the tools — good instruction, ideas on study habits, best organizational practices — to help them succeed.
“She made it possible for everybody to learn science,” Hatch said. “She knew they weren’t all going to be biologists. She respected what they could do instead of fretting about what they could not do.”
In turn, students genuinely enjoyed coming to class and wanted to do well for a teacher that believed they could succeed if they set their mind to it.
Eason enjoyed being around her students so much that she coached cheerleading and powder puff football, and later continuously volunteered to sell football and basketball ticket for the games, often staying to watch.
“She would be there to see them play and be able to discuss their games after the fact,” Hatch said. “She really did get involved in anything that needed a capable hand. She was a remarkable person, very unselfish. She never really appreciated how extraordinary she was.”
Former student Janet Murray, however, knew exactly how remarkable her biology teacher was — calling Eason her favorite person in her whole life.
Murray, who had also started in Malden schools, took a medical reprieve her junior year after she was diagnosed with thyroid disease. She completed 11th grade through a home study, and tried to return senior year, but was only able to stay for three weeks before she need to take leave again.
Later in the year, Murray went back, but learned the administration had dropped her out of the system. Somewhat defeated, she figured she would try to get her GED, but family friend Eason had another plan in mind.
Eason got permission to enroll Murray at MHS and committed herself to helping the then 18-year-old earn her high school diploma.
“She picked me up everyday and took me home so I could graduate,” Murray said. “When I went to Melrose High, she tried to get me involved. She even convinced me to go to the prom. She was an extreme influence over everything in my life.”
And like many of Eason’s students, Murray began caring more about her grades, striving to please the teacher who had become like a second mother to her.
The scholarship, Murray said, perfectly embodies Susan, who always rooted for the underdog and who gave students her all in every way possible, bringing out their best selves.
“I sort of got told what my life should be like and I kind of fell for it,” Murray remembered. “She made me have hope again that I could do something different and what I wanted to do. She was the most phenomenal woman I’ve ever met and you would never know it, she was so humble and carried herself so quietly. She never got the recognition she deserved.”
But today, through the Melrose High School Permanent Scholarship Fund, students such as Murray who saw their lives make a turn for the better, and teachers such as Hatch who admired an educator so in tune with her students’ needs, can guarantee her memory is never forgotten.
Support the scholarship
To donate to the Melrose Permanent Scholarship Fund on behalf of Susan Eason, make checks payable to MHS Scholarship Fund, PO BOX 760695, Melrose, MA 02176, IMO Susan C Eason. To learn more about the foundation, or to make an online donation, visit the Melrose High School Permanent Scholarship Fund Facebook page.
Thank you for the contact information. Sue was truly a great mentor and a great friend.
Thank you for the information - she sounded like a lovely woman and what a great way to honor her memory.
Wonder if they met their goal?