Hathaway Elementary School has lost a beloved teacher.
Susan Champion, 59, passed away from cancer on Friday, May 9.
Principal Laura Bolt describes the third-grade teacher as “vibrant and energetic,” even in her final months. She was in the classroom until winter break.
“Mrs. Champion had such a passion for teaching,” she said. “The kids were like family to her, and she had very high expectations for them. She gave 150 percent, all the time.”
Champion began as an instructional aide more than 20 years ago at Hathaway, then earned her bachelor’s degree and became a teacher, focusing mostly on second and third grades.
Third-grader Makena Bjorklund remembers her as “always being happy.”
“She was excited to teach and even more excited for the students to learn,” Bjorklund said. “She never got mad, just got a little serious.”
She recalls being frustrated with math earlier in the year, and having Ms. Champion take her aside for a minute.
“She created a little chant with clapping and arm tapping,” Bjorklund recalled. “It made it fun, and I will never forget that 6 times 6 is 36!”
Champion leaves behind her husband, John; two daughters, Tess and Rita, and her Hathaway Elementary “family.”
“She was extremely well-loved by everyone,” Bolt said. “She was a remarkable teacher and a tremendous member of the staff.”
Students and staff have created a windmill “flower” garden in front of the building as a tribute to the teacher.
Since Champion’s passing, the community has reached out to students at Hathaway: The Portland/Vancouver Chapter of Project Linus delivered handmade quilts to all the third-graders in her classroom.
In addition, $1,800 has been donated to the Susan Champion Library Fund, to purchase books in her favorite genres.
The school is continuing to accept donations to the fund. Checks can be made out to Hathaway Elementary School with “library fund” noted. The school is located at 630 24th St., Washougal.
It is open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.