Read about Elyse Shamah Robison

Elyse (Shamah) Robison, longtime teacher and Assistant Director at Discovery Schoolhouse in Milton, passed away on May 23, 2012 after a long illness. She was just 38 years old. Elyse worked at Discovery Schoolhouse since the summer of 1995, and over the years moved from Teacher, to Lead teacher, to Assistant Director. She continued at the school until February 2012, when she was unable to return after undergoing major surgery. “She was instrumental in running the school every day,” according to Executive Director, Brian Scheff, “she was part of its very soul.” Scheff continued to say that she was a kind, gentle, nurturing, and calming influence on the program and everyone around her. “Elyse was seldom flustered, always positive, always ready and willing to meet the children where they were at.” Both of her own children, Tyler, then 7-1/2, and Cameron, almost 6, attended the school as preschoolers, and were frequent visitor’s before and after that. Elyse was tirelessly dedicated to the school and her family, and she equally put the children of both of them above all other concerns.

As a teacher at Discovery Schoolhouse for 17 years, Elyse worked with at least two hundred children, mostly from Milton and nearby communities. Phoebe and Christos Minias wrote on the school’s website, “Elyse played such a special part in our kids’ lives. Her loving, calm presence was so reassuring, and she always had great insights into kids’ behavior. It is really hard to believe that she won’t be at Discovery for many years to come touching other children’s lives. We feel so fortunate to have known this amazing woman.” A sentiment that was echoed by Ada Rosmarin who wrote, her “kind smile and gentle nature were at the core of the Discovery Schoolhouse experience. Losing her so young breaks all of our hearts. Her kindness lives on in all she touched.”

A webpage has been set up for people to post memories of Elyse, and the school encourages all children and parents who knew her to visit and leave a message. The messages will be open to the community and shared with her family.

Elyse was a mentor to many student teachers, and often supervised other teachers. Close friend and colleague Katie Cronin wrote, “I met Elyse at Discovery Schoolhouse when I was just out of college. Elyse was my supervisor and mentor and our relationship grew into a friendship. She was and will remain a great inspiration to me. Her level of patience with children of all ages, developmental levels, and familial backgrounds showed me that love, kindness, and an overwhelming ability to accept life and people as it/they come…is key to happiness and success. She was silly, fun, loving, understanding, and just perfectly herself. There is no one like her and she did those things in life that many of us do out of necessity or obligation with absolute love in her heart. She saw the very best in all people. The world has lost a wonderful woman but those lives she touched will never forget her.”

Former Assistant Director Bianca Kelley wrote, “she was a true gift to this world, and all who knew her were touched and somehow changed by her sweet and gentle spirit. I was blessed to work alongside her at Discovery. I have so many fond memories of Elyse. She taught me a lot about patience, and taking the time to enjoy the simple, beautiful moments.”

Board member and art director Cynthia Smith wrote, “her gentle, kind spirit was obvious. She always had a smile for everyone. Her patience and ability to communicate in an open and honest manner was refreshing. I remember having many conversations with her about art, being creative, motherhood, education and life. She has made a lasting impact on so many of us and her presence will be missed. Elyse’s spirit will continue to resonate in the lives of all she has touched.”

Elyse was born May 16, 1974, and grew up in Bardonia, NY. She received a Bacheler of Arts in Visual Arts and Education in 1997 and a Master’s in Education 2000, Both from Curry College. She was Lead Teacher Preschool certified by the Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care, and held a Massachusetts Department of Education Teaching Certificate in Elementary Education. In June 2003 she married Tom Robison, also a Curry graduate, and they settled in West Bridgewater, where they bought a home and started raising a family. Tom and Elyse enjoyed camping every summer, going to outdoor concerts, and hiking in the Blue Hills with their dog Riley. Their first son, Tyler, was born in January 2005, and his brother, Cameron, in July 2006. Once the boys were old enough, they often went hiking in the Blue Hills as a family.

Elyse passed away at her parents’ home in Bardonia, New York, where she had stayed since mid-April with her family. The funeral was held in Spring Valley, New York on Friday, May 25, and Discovery Schoolhouse closed for the day so that staff could attend.

Elyse was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer in the fall of 2010, and underwent two major surgeries and nearly continuous rounds of chemotherapy since then. Although unable to work a regular schedule for much of this time, she was able return to the school for most of last summer and reconnect with families, children, and staff. “Although the prognosis was obviously bad, and I know she suffered a significant amount of pain, I never heard her complain once,” Scheff said, “she worried about her children and the school.” Sometimes she would call to let the school know she would not be able to come in on a particular day because she was feeling to exhausted to work. “She would say ‘I feel so guilty!’ ” Scheff reflected, “She always put other people first.”

At Discovery Schoolhouse all the children and staff have “symbols,” little pictures that are used along with their written names. Elyse’s chosen symbol was the ladybug because she loved ladybugs and ladybug collectables. “We‘re naming one of our rooms the Ladybug Room in Elyse’s memory,” Scheff said. They are right now in the midst of painting a ladybug-themed mural on one wall. Although Scheff was able to tell Elyse about the room, he had hoped to have it completed in time for her to come see it herself, “but it wasn’t to be,” he said. “We’re retiring the ladybug symbol,” he added. The school hopes to also set up a fund or do something else in Elyse’s memory.

Elyse leaves her husband, Tom Robison, her sons Tyler and Cameron Robison (all of West bridgewater), her parents Daniel and Dorothy Shamah (of Bardonia, New York), and her sister, Lori Shamah (of Hoboken, New Jersey).

Elyse’s optimistic nature, soft spoken demeanor, and calming spirit permeated the school’s atmosphere. Scheff commented, “It’s hard to imagine Discovery Schoolhouse without her. She will be sorely missed every day.”




%d bloggers like this: