Abbie L. Hoisington
Abbie L. Hoisington dedicated herself to teaching and to her students, making time to take them on shopping trips and attend their after-school performances. The 28-year-old special education teacher wore a nose ring, spiked her hair, and was sometimes mistaken for a student at Burrillville High School in Harrisville, R.I.
The Cranston woman brought her spunky presence to Burrillville High last fall, after teaching at other schools in Rhode Island, including Cranston East High School, her alma mater.
"She walked the extra mile for her kids," said Richard Trogisch, principal at Burrillville High. "She was a very empathetic person who really loved her kids. She will be missed by her students and the aides she worked with. She was a young, vivacious teacher who really loved her job and everyone knew it."
After learning that Hoisington had died in last week's fire, her students, many of whom have multiple handicaps, wrote about their beloved teacher, signing a piece of paper that stated "Ms. Hoisington was special to us because ... she made us laugh a lot, she was our best friend, she made us want to learn, she took us on special field trips and introduced us to new pen pals."
Hoisington molded homemade soap with her students, introduced them to the Internet, took them to the grocery store, and showed them how to cook meals.
Her father, Leland Hoisington, said she had wanted to get a refrigerator, washer, and dryer for the classroom to help teach the children life skills.
"Her students were her life," he said.
Even when she socialized with other teachers after school, she talked about her students.
"She loved her kids; she talked about her kids a lot," recalled Amy Van Horn, an art teacher at Burrillville. "Her kids really looked up to her."
Van Horn said Hoisington's students once put little rhinestones on their noses as a joke, mimicking their teacher's facial jewelry.
Hoisington attended the Great White concert with her friend, Lisa D'Andrea, 42, a special education teacher at Cranston East High School, who also died in the fire.