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Community Voices: Martin Murphy students recall beloved science teacher Mary Francis

Published in the February 15 – 28, 2017 issue of Morgan Hill Life

By Staff Report

Mary Francis

Morgan Hill Unified School District teacher Mary Francis died in a single vehicle accident Jan. 20. In the early morning darkness during a rainstorm, the Martin Murphy Middle School seventh-grade science teacher’s vehicle collided with a fallen tree while she was on her way to work to the south San Jose campus.

Known by students, parents and fellow teachers for her passion for science, Francis played an integral part in helping students find their own passion for the subject. Throughout her more than 20 years of teaching, her love of learning never ceased. And as science department chair, she was a strong and steady advocate for student achievement, said Martin Murphy Principal Alex Aasen.

“Mary Francis truly cared for her students, and worked tirelessly to help ensure them the best possible school experience,” he said. “Our school is far better for her having taught here. We will miss her tremendously.”

A temporary memorial was placed at Martin Murphy’s Innovative Learning Center and students have been encouraged to write a note of remembrance as they work through the grieving process.

Morgan Hill Life asked Aasen if several of Francis’s students might wish to share their words of fond remembrance for their science teacher. Here are four the principal sent us:

By Emily Tran

Inspiring. Helpful. Encouraging. Spectacular. These words describe the talented teacher Mary Francis. Ms. Francis was 61 when her car struck into a tree in the morning on her commute to Martin Murphy Middle School. She had taught at the school for over two decades in the science department as a healthy and strong leader. Hearing of the tragic news, it has struck the entire community in sorrow. Ms. Francis may of not been known to many, but she had a huge part in educating children.

To students, she had helped us grow throughout the year. She wasn’t just a teacher who helped us learn and get good grades, she was a best friend. Ms. Francis treated us like we were special and through the years we all had a special connection with her. It was tremendously sad when the news had occurred among the school. She had made such good friends with every single student she had, that is was a depressing memory to hear her pass.

By Kayleigh Shuman
Our community was devastated with the news of one of our science teachers, Ms. Francis’s car accident. We will miss you so much, Ms. Francis. Thank you for being a leader in the science community, and for leading our school Environmental Club. Our club had so much fun going to The Santa Cruz Beach and Boardwalk with you, and going to the ocean and examining the water. It was one of my favorite memories from last year.

You treated everyone so nicely. You were kind and generous to all of us. You were a loving school teacher who has been teaching for over 20 years, and have dedicated 17 years to Martin Murphy. You were a role model for many. Thank you for saying hi to me when you would see me in the halls. And thank you for memorizing my name. Thank you for everything. Your passing is a huge loss to our community, your family, and friends. You will be missed so much. Rest in peace, Ms. Francis.

By Hunter Williams

Ms. Francis was one of the best teachers a student could have. She always made time and put in a lot of work in with her students. She always found a way to make something fun. Ms. Francis always came to school with a smile on her face and she always put the bad things behind her. Every day before class would start, she would stand by her door and welcome you. Her classroom was always open for students to come into. Her love for students is something we can never forget. Ms. Francis may be gone but she will always stay in the hearts of Murphy students and staff. As a community we need to come together and work through this. It will be hard, but together we can do it. If there was one thing Ms. Francis would want us to do, it would be to keep working as hard as we can and push on in the science community. Ms. Francis will be truly missed but always remembered.

By Olivia Tapia

On Jan. 20 my school day ended with the most overwhelming feeling of sadness I think I have ever felt. The school administrators announced my beloved science teacher, and mentor, Ms. Mary Francis, passed away in a car accident. I know I am not the only one who will miss her because of her tremendous ability as a school teacher. She was involved in so many aspects of the school’s programs. She affected so many in a positive way. It is so sad to think such a special person is gone. To many people, she was not only a teacher but a friend and a person you could always just say hi, or talk to.

This tragic event has really made me think that teachers and educators have a tremendous responsibility in guiding our lives as young men and women. At the same time, a teacher like Ms. Francis makes it seem effortless to care, to love and help us achieve higher standards in our educational process. Some people are just meant to be teachers and find their calling, and meet it with perfection. I will miss you, Ms. Francis. And I will always remember the things you taught me.