COLLEGE STATION, Texas— Saying goodbye is never easy.
When a College Station elementary school lost one of their most-loved teachers to cancer, they wanted to find a way to carry on her legacy.
“It was hard for us all to say goodbye to her,” said Sara Lake, a second-grade teacher at Greens Prairie Elementary School.
Lake is talking about her friend and colleague, Susan Wells who lost her life to cancer a few years ago.
Wells had an impact on all who knew her at Greens Prairie and Lake wanted to keep her legacy alive.
“She was really on my mind, and I thought how neat it would be to name this turtle, any turtle, any Susan,” Lake recalled.
So, that’s exactly what she did.
Lake learned about a program where marine biologists with Texas A&M were studying sea turtles off the coast of Costa Rica, and inviting local schools to name one of the creatures.
Christine Figgener is working on her PhD at A&M and has been a lead researcher on this project.
“We are using satellite tracks that connect with a satellite system to see where the turtles that are nesting are in Costa Rica go after they’re done nesting,” explained Figgener.
Students in Lake’s second-grade class follow Susan every day through an online program that allows users to track her journey.
Figgener has been working with sea turtles for a decade and hopes this project spreads a message.
“When they walk out into the big world they take habits with them that may be a little bit healthier for our planet and especially for our ocean,” said Figgener.
One that not only connects children to nature, but teaches a valuable lesson in and out of the classroom.
“It’s a way to teach them that we can still celebrate someone,” said Lake.
As the waves carried Susan back out into the ocean, she brought with her the memory of a favorite teacher, one that will live on in the vast openness of the big, blue sea.