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Chittenango Community gathers to mourn death of teacher, but celebrates the lessons she leaves behind

The Chittenango community is mourning the loss of a beloved teacher after she died from injuries suffered during a car crash on Wednesday.
Colleen Hyland
Colleen Hyland
Updated at 11:25 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 5:

Chittenango (WSYR-TV) - The Chittenango community is mourning the loss of a beloved teacher after she died from injuries suffered during a car crash on Wednesday.

48-year-old Colleen Hyland of Oneida was on her way to work on Harsh Road between Route 5 and Canaseraga Road in the town of Sullivan when she swerved to avoid a previous accident involving a Dodge Neon, the Madison County Sheriff’s Office said on Wednesday.

Hundreds attended a prayer service at crossroads community church to share memories of the 7th grade Chittenango Middle School social studies teacher on Thursday.

At the service, many wanted to share their stories of Hyland to make sure her significance is no secret.

“I’m so sad for my friends. Their younger siblings won’t be able to have the experience that we had with her. It was so special for us and they won’t be able to experience it,” said Christian Cerio, a former student of Hyland.

Cerio says Hyland brought the learning experience to life, often times dressing up as historical characters during lessons.

“She'd make us think we were back in time. She'd make it happen. She'd decorate the room,” Cerio said. “Every time she taught, you just wanted to listen because she was so interesting, funny, kind and giving.”

Former students say it wasn’t just the social study lessons they learned, but the messages and inspiration Hyland gave them.

“She came across as this loving person, as a friend. She didn't want to be your teacher; she wanted to be your friend and she knew if she was your friend, you'd learn so much better,” explained Cooper Young, a former student of Hyland. “In my year book, the last time I really spoke to her, she addressed me as Mr. Future President, and she has made me want to pursue a career as a politician.”

After the prayer service, students and others were asked to fill out blue slips of paper and then attach them to a chain of compassion, which will be given to Hyland’s family.

Funeral and memorial services for Hyland have not yet been announced.

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