SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — The staff at STEM at Blodgett Middle School said Aisha Haskins-Stephens was more than a life coach.
“She was in charge of doing magic,” said Harry Valentin, the Principal at STEM at Blodgett Middle School.
Known fondly as Miss Aisha, she was one half of The Good Life Foundation team, and Travis McLeod was the other. They worked closely together helping at risk students find different ways to cope.
“These kids come from tough backgrounds, tough environments things of that nature,” McLeod explained. “This is their safe haven.”
Miss Aisha was there for them as they processed the murder of their 11-year-old classmate Brexialee Torres-Ortiz.
“Aisha was, it’s difficult to say was because she’s still in our hearts, right. Aisha was the person the person that we called immediately,” Valentin shared.
“She was a caring person, a mother figure to a lot of kids that may have felt like they didn’t have that support back home,” McLeod said.
There aren’t enough words to describe her impact but her colleagues shared some.
“Brillance,” Leeza Roper, an eight grade ELA teacher said. “She’s brilliant. Everything about her is bright.”
“Reliable,” said Patricia Miller, a health teacher.
“I would say team player,” Yanetta Mathis, a social worker shared.
“Energetic,” Shantanette Patrice-Johnson, who is a social worker, described.
“Real,” said Kayla Gallagher, a social worker said. “Aisha was real in the rawest, freshest sense of the word.”
“She was a great leader,” explained teaching assistant Tyrell Crenshaw.
“Superstar,” said Paul Crisafulli, a consultant teacher.
She also loved to dance.
Through their grief, reflecting on her life and legacy brings them some comfort.
“Her humanity. She saw the best in our kids and she also brought out the best in our kids,” said Jennifer Benedetto, administrative intern for 7th grade. “Just being around her brought out the best in all of us.”
They want to continue building on that there.
The school has created a crisis plan to address the deaths of Brexi and Aisha and provide support not only to students but staff as well.