A Tribute to Nicole Spencer
Her loving parents, Connie and Paul
Spencer, adopted her and Nick when they were just infants.
It was no secret that Nicole suffered severe burns as a child and as a result experienced painful skin grafts
and had tremendous breathing difficulties. Life was not always kind to Nicole, but the love of her family kept her happy and
laughing. She could have been bitter and resentful at the hand life dealt her, but that was not her way. It was not at all
unusual to see her always with a smile on her face. She was friendly and outgoing, actively pursuing the American dream.
Two years ago, Nicole nominated me for a Who's Who Among America's
Teachers award. Her reasons had something to do with a cultural fair that I had in my classroom while she was a third grade
student of mine. I remember how she proudly displayed a little South Korean flag and other items during her presentation
about her cultural heritage. Nicole may have never remembered the curriculum that I labored hard to cover that year, but I
don't think she ever forgot the lesson that pertains to all people in every nation—be proud of who you are and where
you come from.
The award she nominated me for couldn't have come at a more crucial
time. Life was at its hardest for me. After experiencing a relentless flood of numerous discouraging situations, I came to
the conclusion that teaching was an unappreciated and useless career, that those ads about changing lives were nothing more
than recruiting hype. But her letter of nomination brought to me the realization that it did matter-- at least to one. And
one was enough to make me decide to stay against all odds. The student's lives that I wanted to change ended up changing mine.
I thank Nicole for inspiring me to never give up. I thank
Connie and Paul for pouring love and tenderness into this precious life so that she could pour it out on all of us. I thank
God for the short time we had to know and to love her. And I thank him most of all that today she has no more scars and she
breathes easy in her heavenly home where she is always cherished for who she is and where she comes from.
Thank You so much
Nicole would be so proud