Memorial service Wednesday for popular Stevens High teacher
By MEGHAN PIERCE Union Leader Correspondent
CLAREMONT - Students and staff of Stevens High School plan to hold a memorial service Wednesday for a beloved teacher who died unexpectedly over winter break.
Linda Beaulieu, 58, was traveling in San Juan, Puerto Rico, when she died Thursday.
The memorial service for Beaulieu is planned for 3 p.m. at Trinity Church on Broad Street.
"The school is working with the pastor to come up with the program so there will be students and teachers speaking and sharing stories about Linda," said assistant principal Kim Ezen.
Beaulieu had been an English teacher at Stevens High School for almost three decades, since 1984.
"It's quite devastating," said Evelyn Plourde, who has been teaching at the high school since 1990.
Monday morning before school started, Stevens principal Frank W. Sprague gathered faculty together to prepare them to deal with grieving students, Plourde said. Sprague had contacted teachers over winter break.
"We will have time to grieve, but our students come first," he told the teachers Monday, Plourde said.
On Monday she spent time with many of Beaulieu's students.
"It's been a really rough time," she said.
Beaulieu had designed a "Tech English" class specifically for a class of about 20 boys who study plumbing and heating in Stevens tech high school.
"It was amazing to see some of those boys get very emotional in my class yesterday and we talked through it," Plourde said.
Many of the students had already heard of her death through social media.
One student from the tech class showed Plourde a pen he bought after learning of Beaulieu's death. He was always without a pen and would borrow one from Beaulieu, who would tease him saying it was her "favorite pen," so he bought the same kind of pen.
Another student of Beaulieu's played a recording of Beaulieu singing Louie Armstrong's "What a Wonderful World." Beaulieu sang the song as a way of encouraging one of her students, who had a good singing voice but was afraid to sing in front of people, Plourde said.
"Linda Beaulieu sang it to her class and this student taped it."
"That just says it all. That's the type of teacher she was. She was phenomenal. She really was very strict. They called her the 'task master,' but the kids all loved her for it," Plourde said.
Beaulieu had a way of finding the underdogs and encouraging them and helping them find their path in life.
"You never know how you're going to affect students and she always went after them and made them do their best," Plourde said. "I think that was really her forte. It was life, not English. It was really always about life. She was really like their mother. She never had children of her own and her nieces and nephews she always tended as her own. She was an unbelievable person."
Plourde said in trying to find some good in the tragedy, she spoke to the students about how Beaulieu loved to travel and had been talking about her trip.
"She was so thrilled to go to Puerto Rico and couldn't wait and that's what she was talking about to me and other students. She was doing what she loves."
Beaulieu was born in Woodsville and graduated from Woodsville High School in 1972. She graduated from Keene State Teaching College in 1976. She was working on her master's degree at the University of Vermont. She was married to George Beaulieu for 30 years.
Sprague attended a funeral for Beaulieu in Bath Tuesday. In a letter to parents, he said she "passed away from natural causes during winter vacation" and advised parents how best to help their children through the grieving process.
"Students will respond to this news in many different ways. Some will be sad, then happy, and then sad again. Some will appear not to care; others may act out or withdraw. All may benefit from extra time with adults who love them," he wrote. "Our whole school community, families and teachers, will be working together to adjust to this loss. We are thinking of you all."
Plourde said Sprague has made additional counseling available at the school for all students and staff.