Farewell to Mrs. Ports
Farewell & Auf Wiedersehen, Frau Ports!
Edelweiss, Edelweiss; Every morning you greet me.
Small and white, clean and bright; You look happy to meet me
Blossom of snow may you bloom and grow, Bloom and grow forever
Edelweiss, Edelweiss, Bless my homeland forever.
It was a sentimental memorial service on a sunny but brisk day in May. A beautiful American Dogwood crested with white leaves cast a dappled shadow on the stone marker below. Neon green watering cans were filled and ready to be poured during the ceremony as both a practical and symbolic gesture of the nurturing attributes of a beloved staff member at Sunrise Drive, Regina Ports, whose sudden passing left a tremendous void.
On this May morning, the entire Sunrise Drive community along with Mrs. Ports' family and friends gathered to honor a very special person, friend, and role model with a memorial service at the newly installed garden created in Mrs. Ports’ honor.
Words, music (Edelweiss and Sunrise Drive You Are The One), and emotions were shared by the family members, students, parents, and staff as they celebrated the life of an amazing mother, and School Related Personnel, who served in various capacities as a substitute clerk, cafeteria monitor, and bus matron. Regina Ports did it all, and her compassion and courage established her legacy with everyone with whom she came in contact.
During the dedication, Dr. Cara Donaldson and Mrs. Toni Fabian collected a basketful of the paper cut-outs shaped like leaves for the Indoor Regina Ports’ Memorial Tree, a hallway mural painted by art teacher, Jeanette Ainsle with the words: Through Acts of Kindness, Our Children Bloom and Grow. Upon each leaf is written an act of kindness that makes a positive difference in the lives of others.
Finally—and on cue—the outdoor dedication ceremony ended when a select group of students lifted the neon green watering cans to nourish the hungry roots of the tree.
Since 1974, Mrs. Ports’ touched the lives of many students and staff. The following letter from Sunrise Drive Principal Rose Castello and another from Fran Knox, secretary in the Sunrise Drive Main Office, are only two of the many testaments to character of Regina Ports.
Our character is formed by the interactions we have with others and the models we see on a daily basis. As toddlers most of these experiences are within our family. As children grow and enter school they are presented with multiple opportunities to interact with peers, teachers, and other adults. All of these encounters provide children with learning experiences that help develop their character, enrich their lives, and provide exemplars both good and bad. Whether it is the lesson learned from forgetting your homework or the kindness of an adult when you have no one to play with at recess, children learn and grow by the models that are presented and their experiences with others.
A finer role model for children than Mrs. Regina Ports would be difficult to find. She was never too busy to stop and listen to a child’s story. She would always take the extra time needed to assist a student who forgot his or her lunch, jacket, or favorite baseball. She exemplified good character in millions of small ways every day. How lucky the children of Sunrise Drive were to have her as a role model.
There are people who we meet, get to know, enjoy their company and move on. Then there are people who enter our lives and by their example help us to become a better person. These people help shape who we are and what we become.
Jack Nicholson once said it perfectly in a movie, when referring to a woman he had met, “She makes me want to be a better man.” So was the case with Mrs. Ports, she made us all want to be a better person. Her legacy lives on in each of the students at Sunrise Drive. We hope that they will pass on her goodness to others they meet and make this world an even better place. It would be the best tribute to such a loving and beloved woman.
A Note From Mrs. Fran Knox
I began working at Sunrise Drive almost 5 years ago. Starting a new job in a town where you don’t know anyone is just like moving and going to a new school. I was nervous and scared. But on that first day I met Mrs. Ports. It only took a moment to feel relaxed and welcome.
Within a very short time, I felt as though I had known my new friend all my life. It didn’t take long to realize she had that effect on everyone. She always said hello with a smile and was truly glad to see you.
Mrs. Ports always found the good in people and was never too busy to lend a helping hand. For a tiny woman, Regina Ports’ heart was giant-sized. I am very thankful to have known and loved her.