3/30/06 Hi Ms. Clemens,
I wanted to send you a note to thank you for the assignment you gave our son Travis Robbins when he was in your 8th grade class at Marsh JHS in 2000. He passed away on March 18th, at the age of 19. We are grieving so much, but the paper he wrote in your class, along with a paper the he wrote his senior year in Mrs. Goodes' class at PV were a great comfort to us, and helped us know how much he loved us.
As far as we can tell, he was in the early stages of Schizophrenia, and his thinking had not been clear, nor his personality the same since early summer of 2005, so having a detailed summary of how much he loved his life from the 8th grade viewpoint, as well as the 12th grade viewpoint has been a great gift. I am attaching a copy of his obituary, and the paper he wrote in your class - in case you might remember him - we are putting a website together in his memory, and this will be the first entry - the website is www.TravisRobbins.com - if you are interested how his viewpoint changed in his senior year, that paper will be there soon - I just have to type it.
I would encourage you to keep assigning this type of work to your current students, because children this age (boys especially) don't take the time to write about themselves, nor do they really want to, but as you can see, it is a great reflection, when that person starts to fade, or is no longer here as it is in his case.
Sincerely Grateful -- Claudia Robbins (and my husband and our other two sons as well)
3/30/06 Dear Claudia and Family~
Thank you for your email and kind words.
I am deeply saddened by the loss of your son, and my former student, Travis. I do indeed remember him!
I remember his quirky smile, his sense of humor and wit, and the eloquent way in which he wrote which stemmed from the deep way he thought. He seemed wise beyond his years to me, and his autobiography is a case in point. The fact that as an adolescent, (and we all know how egocentric and selfish they can be), he realized the value and importance of sitting down together as a family to eat is amazing; he valued that time. And I learned from him in that message, "Every family should eat together." The teacher-to-student relationship is a symbiotic one.
I would like to see the paper he wrote in Mrs. Goodes' class, so I will look for that when it's on the website?
My sincere sympathy goes out to you and your family. I will remember him fondly, and as you encouraged, I will continue to assign the autobiography assignment in the years to come. I agree with your statement about boys, which reminds me of a Chinese proverb: I see, and I remember. I hear, and I forget. I write, and I understand. Travis was truly "fortunate."
Kate Clemens and Emily (daughter)
April 1, 2006
Family and Friends of Travis:
I will not forget having Travis as a student in my 8th grade English class. It was an honor to be granted the small window in which to view Travis' life via the written word. He valued and had a sense of wonder about many of the "simple" things in life at a young age, which so many take for granted. I will be reminded and think of Travis when I too drink a cup of coffee out in nature and watch the sun go up.
Kate Clemens (