Gloucester City NJ- Pictured in front of one of the Giving Trees at Cold Springs School are from left: Marissa Rusk, Janice Pregartner, Olivia Carpenter and Lilly Birney.
By Anne Forline
Gloucester City News
The faculty and staff of Cold Springs School have assembled two “Giving Trees” to remember and honor the memory of preschool teacher, Nicole Ann Christison, who passed away from ovarian cancer last month.
Dee Driscoll, a literacy coach at the Gloucester City school, explained the purpose of the Giving Trees.
“We call them our ‘Giving Trees’ after the book of the same name by Shel Silverstein. We compiled a list of children's literature with each title and the cost for the hardback edition,” she said.
“We decided to go with hardback books and library bound books because they last much longer,” Driscoll said.
The book titles were written on green construction paper that had been fashioned into large leaves.
Parents, staff and anyone who wants to honor Nicole’s memory are encouraged to come in, pluck a leaf from the tree and donate the book’s cost.
Book plates bearing the donor’s name will be attached to the inside covers of the books, with a notation that the contribution was given in loving memory of Nicole.
Janice Pregartner thinks the Giving Trees are a fitting way to honor Nicole, as she worked closely with Nicole as a paraprofessional for several years.
“It was a pleasure working with Nicole and I will miss her dearly. Her inspiration kept us going through the day. Nicole's favorite time of the day was ‘Story Tree’ and she enjoyed every book she read,” Pregartner said.
“The Giving Trees are a great way to express in our hearts how we feel of her passing. Her memory will be kept alive through these books for a very long time,” she said.
Second grade teacher Ellen Boulden agreed, adding, “The Giving Trees will help everyone now and in the future honor and remember Nicole’s dedication to teaching.”
Boulden remembers Nicole as a passionate and dedicated teacher.
“Nicole was one of the most positive and bravest people I have ever met. If you thought you were having a bad day, all you had to do was watch Nicole teaching with a smile on her face and then you knew the little things in life didn’t matter,” Boulden said.
“She consistently went to treatments and doctors’ appointments around her work schedule, even if that meant going to treatment and then coming right back to school for parent-teacher conferences.
“She truly made a difference in every student’s life she taught, as well as their families. Nicole got to know her students as a teacher, friend and family member. She went to tee ball and soccer games. She even attended town events to go on amusement rides with her students,” she said.
When Boulden heard ab-out The Giving Trees, she asked Nicole’s mother, Elise, and family which books they would like written on the leaves.
“Good Night Moon” was included because it was Nicole’s favorite childhood book.
Nicole’s young cousins suggested Disney character books, especially those featuring Minnie Mouse, because Minnie was Nicole’s favorite character.
So far, more than 50 leaves have been plucked from the Giving Trees and the staff and faculty hope to sell many more.
Driscoll said that some books will be placed in the Early Childhood Center, and others will be shelved in the library of the main building.
About 250 leaves have been constructed, and more will be made if need be.
For more information about The Giving Trees at Cold Springs, call the school office at 456-0320.
The trees are located in the lobbies of both the main building and the Early Childhood Center. The prices of the books range from $10 to $15.