July 19, 1954 – Jan. 9, 2016
Rebecca J. Todd of Hamburg, an award-winning teacher and school administrator, died Jan. 9 in Sisters Hospital after a lengthy illness. She was 61.
Born in Eden, the former Rebecca Hesse was a graduate of Eden Central High School. She attended SUNY Fredonia State, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in education and a master’s degree in reading, as well as SAS (Statistical Analysis System) certification and SDA (School District Administrator) certification.
She began her career at Eden Central School, where she taught third grade and language arts, then taught in the Lake Shore Central Schools and Frontier Central Schools, where she was an administrative intern, reading teacher, language arts coordinator and director of the summer enrichment program.
In 1993, she became principal of Elma Primary School in the Iroquois Central School District, where she established a butterfly garden, then was named the district’s interim assistant superintendent.
When Iroquois asked her to head its Reading Recovery Program, she took a year off to earn her certification as a teacher leader at Ohio State University. When she returned to her post at Elma Primary School, she set up training to certify teachers for the program and established the program at Marilla Primary School. In 1997, she took a staff development position with the Board of Cooperative Educational Services as a reading and early intervention trainer for three school districts.
She went to the Tonawanda City School District in 2004 as principal of Highland Elementary School, which was recognized with the Blue Ribbon School Award in 2005. She created a Parent/Teacher Book Club and addressed bullying by introducing a special project for students called “Hearts for Highland.”
After leaving Tonawanda in 2007, she became an adjunct professor at D’Youville College, where she taught courses in reading development, and an adjunct professor at Medaille College, where she led graduate and undergraduate classes.
She received a service award from Iroquois Central, a Western New York Teacher of the Year Award from Canisius College, was named a Young Career Woman of the Year by the Business and Professional Women’s Club of Evans in 1981, and received the President’s Service Award from Buffalo South Phi Delta Kappa. Her work also was published in American Educator magazine.
Survivors include a daughter, Kathryn Langdon; a brother, Elmer Hesse III; a lifelong friend, Linda Bergmann; and three grandchildren.
A celebration of her life will be held at 2 p.m. Sunday in Eden United Methodist Church, 2820 E. Church St., Eden.