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Susan D. Kupiec, retired elementary school teacher April 7, 1950 -- Sept. 23, 2011

Susan D. Kupiec, of Wheatfield, a retired elementary school teacher in the Sweet Home and Grand Island districts, died Friday in Buffalo General Hospital. She was 61.

Born Susan Schadenfroh in Toledo, Ohio, she graduated from Sweet Home High School in 1968. She went on to earn bachelor's and master's degrees in education from Buffalo State College.

Mrs. Kupiec started her career teaching in the Sweet Home School District in the early to mid-1970s and was there for a couple of years before she went on to the Grand Island School District, where she first taught kindergarten at Sidway Elementary School.

Mrs. Kupiec then shifted to Kaegebein Elementary in the mid-1980s and taught second grade, family members said.

She established a math and science laboratory at the school and served as the chairwoman of "Reflections," a national PTA creative arts contest, and of the Science Afternoon yearly event.

Family members said Mrs. Kupiec was known for being involved in the lives of her students.

"Children care that you care about them," Mrs. Kupiec once said, adding that she felt a maternal connection to them. "School is like a family today, even more so than ever before, since many moms are working."

Mrs. Kupiec was named a Dunlop Teacher of the Week, a nationwide award. She retired from Kaegebein Elementary School in 2007.

After suffering a stroke that left her partially paralyzed in her late 30s, Mrs. Kupiec continued her teaching career from 1991 until 2007.

She is survived by her husband of 38 years, Frank; a daughter, Jennifer White; and a sister, Patricia Remington.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 9:30 a.m. Thursday in St. Christopher Catholic Church, 2660 Niagara Falls Blvd., Town of Tonawanda.