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Finding The Good: Honoring a legacy of love

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Heather Dengler

BINGHAMTON (WBNG) -- West Middle School in Binghamton is honoring and remembering a local teacher's legacy of love.

Heather Dengler was a 7th Grade ELA teacher for West Middle School in Binghamton for almost 8 years. She battled cancer for most of that time but was so dedicated to her students that she continued to work, even when going through rounds of chemotherapy.

"Heather was a dedicated teacher who loved her students and provided a positive, loving environment for them," said Kristine Battaglino, Principal at West Middle School

Heather passed away on March 19, 2020. Unfortunately, the school wasn't able to honor her then as it was the same week when COVID lock-downs began for school.

"I have so many memories, she was a joy to have around," said Nicole Smith, another teacher and close friend to Heather. "She was laughing, always just having a great time. I just can't pick a specific memory. I just adored her. She and I were extremely close."

Last Friday, the school unveiled a 'Book Nook' in the library, dedicated to Heather, and filled with more than 1,500 books from Heather's collection that she had been collecting over the year.

Her husband Bob was there for the ceremony and told us he was touched by the tribute to his wife.

"With COVID and everything, life changed drastically. We really didn't have a funeral, we really didn't have any closure to it so it's nice to see her remembered like this. Really appreciate everything they did."

Nicole says this 'Book Nook' is exactly has Heather would've wanted it.

"This represents everything that she stood for. It's her library collection, it's her rug and decorations. She would have absolutely loved this. So we harnessed our inner heather and we decorated the way that she would've wanted to."

Bob went on to say that when Heather wasn't home, she was at the school, thinking of her students.

"She really loved her job, she was here all the time. In fact, when I still drive by the school it still feels like she's here when she's not home. It just really feels like that when I drive by here."

And it was hard to find a time when Heather didn't have a book in her hand.

"I still have books sitting around the house that I haven't put away yet because she started reading and just never finished you know because of what happened," Bob explained.

"She had a light that shined from within, and had a positive influence on all those around her," Principal Battaglino shared.

So although Heather may be gone, her light is continuing to shine. Hoping to inspire the next generation.

The school also presented a $2,300 check to Mercy House, as Heather spent her final months there.

Scott Sasina

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