School mourns fatal crash

Mar. 15, 2013 @ 08:17 PM

As spring flowers begin to bloom, and the remaining days of school dwindle down, students and staff at Henderson Middle will finish out the year with the memory of a teacher close to their hearts.

A memorial surrounds the door where Mrs. Joan McLaughlin, a sixth-grade science teacher, once taught. She died Wednesday morning traveling to work from Roxboro where she lived.

McLaughlin worked in a team with three other teachers on a hall where the same group of students rotated between science, social studies, mathematics and language arts. A set up standard in most middle schools, it creates a family-like atmosphere and close working relationships between teachers.

All three teachers that worked with McLaughlin were in their first year at Henderson Middle. All three are struggling with her loss.

“I really miss her,” said Analiza Maghanoy, sixth-grade language arts teacher. Maghanoy’s eyes flooded with tears as she remembered McLaughlin as being the first person to greet her, and someone who helped her when she struggled.

“Because I was a new teacher coming from the Philippines, she would help me a lot,” Maghanoy said. “She would advise me on how to handle classroom management.”

On Tuesday evening before McLaughlin left for the day, Maghanoy remembers her popping in her door to tell her bye, a rare occurrence.

“She very rarely said goodbye,” Maghanoy said. “She put her head in my door and said, ‘goodbye Mrs. Ann’”

Christain Medlin teaches social studies on the same hall where McLaughlin taught. As a first-year teacher, she looked up to McLaughlin, and talked to her daily. Maghanoy described the two as having a mother and daughter relationship.

“I only knew her for seven months, but she made a pretty big impact,” Medlin said. “Just being someone to talk to, I was always talking to her, at least an hour a day.”

Medlin and McLaughlin also spent time together outside the classroom, helping to lead an after-school program for girls.
“We did girls on track together, which is where we empower girls through running,” Medlin said.

McLaughlin was remembered as a passionate teacher who always had time for her children by math teacher Adith Williams-White.

“She was a dedicated teacher who was punctual,” Williams-White said. “She would go through great lengths to get resources for the kids, and she was always at her duty station on time.”

Just as the other two teachers on her hall did, Williams-White looked to McLaughlin for guidance.
“Since she was older than I in the teaching fraternity, she had this expertise that she would always bring to the table,” Williams-White said. “She knew the know how.”

On Thursday, additional counselors were present at Henderson Middle to provide grief counseling and address the needs of individual students.

Dr. John Hargrove, principal at Henderson Middle, also visited each class individually.

Hargrove remembers a conversation he had with McLaughlin the day before she died, where he brought up the possibility of her teaching eighth grade next year.

“She jokingly said her licensure was only for K-6, so she couldn’t go any higher than sixth grade,” Hargrove said. “We laughed about it.”

When asked whether veteran teacher, McLaughlin’s placement on a hall with three teachers in their first year at Henderson Middle was intentional, Hargrove responded by saying no.

“It kind of just happened that way,” Hargrove said. “She was kind of like the glue holding them all together.”

Contact the writer at