Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Mr Lees

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Our school community is grieving today. We lost one of our teachers yesterday in tragic, tragic circumstances. 

He was Brynley's favourite Prep School teacher..... you know the teacher you remember way into your adult years as the one who changed you, moulded you, inspired you. 

One year with Mr Lees and you're on the right track for life. Mr Lees believed only in positive reinforcement and had all the boys striving for the ultimate weekly 'Yellow Effort Award', through achieving mini awards throughout the week... on uniform care, punctuality, manners, class effort, Spelling, Maths and 'The Friday Tests'. He was fair too. If you missed a couple of marks in the spelling test, you got a chance to earn them back by scoring a hole-in-one in the classroom putt-putt Mr Lees had set up. He loved golf. He was an international Rugby Sevens Referee. He was so fit and taught the boys a lot about fitness. Mr Lees had our boys lined up every morning under the flagpole for uniform inspection. The boys straightened each others socks and belts before Mr Lees came out with his clipboard each morning. You know, your belt buckle has to line up with your shirt buttons and your sock stripes can't be all 'wonky'. The boys loved it. They loved him. They loved his discipline and his standards. 

My son has an amazing work ethic which all started because of Mr Lees. My boy also has not looked shabby since, thanks to Mr Lees. He wears his uniform with pride. Mr Lees lead by example... he was always organised, always punctual, always happy, always interesting. Mr Lees believed in facing your fears head on. He had fake snakes hanging from the ceiling of the classroom, as snakes were his biggest fear. It was a 'Boy's Own Adventure' being in his classroom.

Just last Friday we waved to Mr Lees crossing the road after school. He had his dear little boy on his hip. He was kissing him and giving him a cuddle after kindy pickup. They were smiling and happy and healthy and vibrant and now they are gone. Life changes in an instant. Devastating.

Mr Lees, I need to tell everyone through my blog that you made a difference, you really did. Things won't be the same without you around. Kristian could not wait to have you as a teacher. We had our fingers crossed for Year 6. 

Our hearts are so heavy for your family.
We respected you very much. We will miss you.
Photobucket

54 comments:

  1. WOW A-M, what an inspirational man, how devastating for his family & all of the kids in his school, I saw a snippet about his death on the news here in NSW, very sad.

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  2. My husband and I are teachers. We are also Christians and Mr Lees and his family will be in our prayers today.
    How wonderful of you to share his story as this is what keeps those who pass on alive.
    With much sadness,
    helen

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  3. So sad, but a beautifully written eulogy.

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  4. Gosh A-M, such a horrid ordeal. I had heard snippets on the news in Melbourne of the circumstances, but no names mentioned....until I googled. Love and thoughts to you, your boys and the whole school community. It's gut wrenching. xoxo

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  5. So very very sad, a lovely tribute A-M.

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  6. How utterly heartbreaking A-M. I am so sorry for the loss of two souls in such tragic circumstances. Hope your boys are ok. x

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  7. Beautifully written A-M. I did wonder whether he was at your boys school. How desperate or unwell he must have been to do such a thing. I also saw the school's grieving notice online last night. Seems he was so very well respected. Your boys will need lots of support as they try and make sense of what happened with one of their idols. So very confusing for them.

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  8. Nicely written A-M, what a tragic situation. So sad....

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  9. Oh A-M how horrific. How desperate he must have felt to do what he did.
    My heart goes out to his family, yours and the hundreds he would have touched.
    xxx

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  10. Just so sad, I feel so sorry for his family.

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  11. A lovely snapshot A-M of a man thatwas beloved by his student.
    My son remembers him from his school too.
    What a tragedy.
    Kate Bx

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  12. So sorry, my heart goes out to you and your boys. May God comfort you.

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  13. This is such a tragic story, so very heartbreaking. It is difficult to imagine what drives a loving parent to that depth of depair. May he be remembered for the wonderful things you mention in your post.

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  14. that's such a tragedy, to lose someone so special!

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  15. Tragic is definitely the best way to describe. Im so glad you were able to present the wonderful side of Mr Lees. The pain for you all must be overwhelming as I sit here feeling some of it too. Fiona

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  16. An exquisitely poignant message from your beautiful heart dear A-M. As a society we need to tear down those messages we give our boys about being strong, manning up, etc. It means as men they remain closed as they struggle with deep issues, not talking, not opening up, not seeking help when they need it the most. As mothers, wives, daughters, sisters we can effect a change, we must & soon.
    Millie xx

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  17. You and your boys were in my thoughts A-M when I heard the news. I cannot conceive the depth of despair that would drive a parent to those actions. So terribly difficult for anyone to understand, let along young impressionable boys. Thank goodness he can be remembered for all the wonderful traits he exhibited prior to this and your boys can focus on those memories.

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  18. I was thinking of you and your boys last night when I heard the news. It is wonderful for you to share the positive difference this man made in your boys lives. I imagine it would give his family comfort if they were to read your post and I hope you are able to help your boys make sense of such a tragedy. I agree with Millie that we need to support our boys and men sharing their issues and not carrying burdens alone.

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  19. A-M, I often pop into your beautiful, inspiring blog, and I wanted to comment today. So very sad to read this news,you've written a beautiful tribute to this teacher. Just wanted to let you know that both his family, and your own are in my thoughts today.

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  20. What a tragedy. And another reminder of the insidiousness of mental illness in our country - particularly for men. A beautiful eulogy, A-M.

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  21. So very sad A-M my heart breaks...a lovely tribute xx

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  22. I can't help but think we all wouldn't be so loving in our tributes of this man if he didn't take his own life as well. The father who performed a similar, (also premeditated) act in Melbourne is labelled very differently. You're right, it is a tragedy, I'm just not sure whether putting this man on a pedestal serves anyone very well, particularly the mother of this poor little boy.

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  23. What a devastating loss, not only for the family but also for your school community. So very, very sad. K xx

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  24. Hugs to Brynley and your family. So shocking and so sad. I guess we may never know what was behind it but it's no less devastating and touches so many people.<3

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  25. A-M you wrote your feelings beautifully. Such a tragety but it shows his personality and dedication will live on forever

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  26. This is just so heartbreaking. Your tribute to him is so beautiful, for someome so respected in the community it is so very sad that he felt he had to do this. My thoughts and prayers are with you. Robyn x

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  27. Natalie, He must have been in a very dark place to do what he did. I am just acknowledging the good that he brought into our lives. My heart breaks for the little boys mother. I could not imagine. A-M xx

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  28. I read the paper this morning and thought of you and your boys. Having spent the morning in the classroom doing parent help I know how important great teachers are. Brynley was blessed to have Mr Lees in his life - if only for a short while. It seems to me that the very best of who he was will live on and spread outwards.

    Thinking of you all today and sending love and light. Thank you for sharing this with us.
    Ruth x

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  29. Thank you for writing this (I am tears thinking about it), for helping us to understand a little more about the man. When I saw the news I was shocked and still are that such despair is felt among parents that they are driven to such things but by shedding a little light on who he was in some way makes a small difference. Doesn't change the facts and heartbreak that his family must feel but does make us consider all sides of the story.

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  30. Too heartbreaking to contemplate. Beautiful thoughts here A-Me and your choice of photo says it all really.
    Ditto to Millie's comment.
    xx

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  31. Just read the coverage, how tragic. How little we know about private grief.

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  32. Oh A-M I'm so sorry to hear this sad news. How wonderful that his legacy will live on through all those he touched during his lifetime.

    Kat

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  33. Sad to hear this A-M. My thoughts are with all his kids that he taught and family. Their are some teachers that leave imprints on your heart. I had one when I was thirteen and going a bit astray. Mr Phillips took me aside and spoke to me in such a way that I was able to turn around. My biggest regret is that I saw him later in life and I wanted to go up to him and thank him but my insecurities that he would not remember me stopped me from doing so. Shortly afterwards he was killed in an accident! Teachers are indeed special. x

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  34. What a tragic story A-M, I feel so sad, not only for the man who you have described as such a loving, caring member of your school community and his son, but also for the poor boy's mother, so tragic. You have written a lovely post here paying tribute to someone who had a big impact on your son x

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  35. So so so sad - I shed tears for the little boy that will not grow up last night and for his father who was clearly battling some major demons. His poor poor mother that has to try to survive now without her precious boy, unfathomable. I thank you for sharing a different side of Mr Lee's.

    I hope Churchie is looking after its boys xx

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  36. My sister's children went to Churchie. My husband and I are both Christian teachers. In the last decade I have been concerned at the striving to be perfect ethos that has people thinking that they have to have impossibly high standards. It is of an almost Stepford Wives nature. Coupled with this decade's Quality Teaching model for teaching has kept up an unrelentless pushing for "excellence".
    When a person feels that they are not keeping up there is a tendency to go to the doctor who will say you are anxious or depressed and you need antidepressants. Unfortunately then the side effects of insomnia, agitation, paniky feelings, sudden mood changes etc compound a person's self doubt and mental distress. In my church alone I have been alarmed at how many of our congregation are taking this type of medication. Over the last two years alone 3 that I know of have suicided after starting on antidepressants. These people seemed to deteriorate AFTER taking this supposed anxiety/ depression. Because of this I have been reading others accounts of their "treatment" and it appears that patients listen to their doctors who listen to the pharmaceutical companies who put profit before patients welfare and safety. (Shades of the tobacco industry-when they used to pay "experts" to publish their findings that there was no link between their products and cancer). For the sake of our friends and relatives we should promote an investigation into the pharmaceutical marketing of anxiety and depression as illness. Studies have shown that a depressive bout can be prolonged and worsened through drug therapy. Read "Dying For A Cure" by Rebekah Beddoe.

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  37. I have lived with a family member who suffers from mental illness, and recently an old school friend inexplicably took her life, leaving behind a seemingly happy family and existence. As adults looking on, we may not be able to understand or condone these actions, but we are better equipped with than our children to process and deal with it. Children need to be able to focus on the positive aspects of the person as the horror of this type of act is sometimes just too much to bear at a young age. A-M your comments are fitting and can only support your boys and the community, and possibly the family in trying to come to terms with the tragedy. Lisa x

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  38. I have lived with a family member who suffers from mental illness, and recently an old school friend inexplicably took her life, leaving behind a seemingly happy family and existence. As adults looking on, we may not be able to understand or condone these actions, but we are better equipped with than our children to process and deal with it. Children need to be able to focus on the positive aspects of the person as the horror of this type of act is sometimes just too much to bear at a young age. A-M your comments are fitting and can only support your boys and the community, and possibly the family in trying to come to terms with the tragedy. Lisa x

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  39. A mother I knew well lost her three daughters and her husband in a similar event some years ago so I know how you are feeling. My heart goes out to your boys and the harsh realities this brings to them at such a young age and I am saying a prayer fro you and the boys and for Mrs Lees. What utter despair he must have been feeling may God look after them both. xxx

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  40. A beautiful tribute A-M. I echo Millie's thoughts so strongly here. A change needs to be effected to support men in the community who feel so isolated. I've recently lost a friend to suicide and the shock waves it sent around our Christian community was huge. Everyone's reaction was different and it continues to effect us all deeply. A loving, devoted mother with no previous history of mental illness but facing the breakdown of her marriage and a deep soul ache that she could no longer face. I don't know if you ever listen to Richard Fidler on the ABC, but he's Brisbane based and had a remarkable woman on his program today in response to this tragedy. Jill Fisher is a suicide bereavement specialist and you might find her insights helpful during this overwhelming, confusing time. For you and your beautiful boys.
    Here's the link: http://www.abc.net.au/local/stories/2012/02/21/3435968.htm?site=conversations.
    Meredy xo

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  41. A-M, as soon as I saw the story & school on the news this morning I wondered if it was the same school as your boys. Thank you for sharing such a personal account of a wonderful man. It makes the whole thing all the more tragic though :(

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  42. I keep wondering how his wife will live the rest of her life.

    It's shocking and sad and horrible on about 9000 levels.

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  43. Oh my gosh A.M I heard on the news today what a tragic story, you think you know a person such a shame he couldn't have got help. xx

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  44. A-M...I just opened my newspaper (The Toronto Star) and on page 2 is an article about this sad happening. Mr. Lees was a Canadian, a graduate of Carleton University in Ottawa. The photos of him and his little boy make it all the more heartbreaking. I can't help thinking of the devastation of a mother who has had her child ripped from her arms. So terribly, terribly sad.

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  45. I am so sorry to hear this.You have paid a very fitting tribute to one who has made such a difference in the lives of young students!

    xoxo
    Karena
    Art by Karena

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  46. So sad. Very sweet writing about him.

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  47. A father here in the states just took the lives of his two darling little boys...devestatingly sad situation, as is this one, it leaves me in shock. Praying for the mother...such a tragedy.
    xo J~

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  48. A-M, so very nicely said. We too knew Jason but through rugby rather than college. Jason refereed many of the club games over the years and my husband got to know him. He tried to always be fair and one occassion when his mind was elsewhere and he had a poor game he later apologised.An apology from a referee is a rare occassion. We sensed at that time not all was right in Jason's world. In recent times my daughter would often see him out running after school and he always had a smile. I too live with serious mental illness in my family so I know that sometimes the family and friends are almost powerless to help the person affected.My thoughts are with his wife and pray she finds the strength to recover from a loss noperson should have to bear.

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  49. Such a sad thing to have happened :(
    My thoughts are with the little boy's mum and Mr Lees' family and friends <3

    B

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  50. I didn't know what happened, but when I saw some of the comments, I googled it. I'm so sorry, AM. Some things just don't make sense. I'm glad Mr. Lees did a lot of good in this world, but I don't understand why some parents feel the need to take their child with them. Obviously, it's a mental illness, but I have to wonder what he was thinking.

    The child was so adorable in the photo I saw. That poor, poor mother. I don't know how you ever get past the death of a child, particularly in a circumstance like this.

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  51. I read the comments here yesterday , but I just couldnt. All yesterday I thought of the mother of this innocent little boy & Mr.Lees family. Even more concerning of a whole school of impressionable boys & young men. How will it be explained to them , to make sense of such a tragedy or this is not the way out ?
    You wrote a beautiful post of your families experience with Mr. Lees , I just wish he had of had the strength to ' face his fears' differently in this tragic moment.
    xo

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  52. oh AM I just read this. I cannot believe that you knew him and he was Brynley's teacher. What a terrible sickening tragedy.

    I really think that the media must stop reporting on these things - this has echos of the awful incident on the Westgate Bridge a year or so ago - must have been some kind of influence maybe?

    Anyway I feel ill thinking about it. We have to do more to help these people.

    xo

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Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to leave me a comment. I love hearing from you. A-M xx