Beloved James River teacher Carrie Roarty honored with outdoor classroom

Posted at 3:36 PM, May 09, 2014
and last updated 2014-05-09 18:23:22-04

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. (WTVR) -  Under a warm spring sun. The day arrives much of the student body and staff at James River High School have been waiting two years for.

They’re finally welcoming a new addition to their school, but someone is sorely missed at this joyous ribbon cutting. Behind the smiles and applause lingers a touch of sadness.

Teacher and coach Carrie Roarty, a beloved fixture at James River High School lost her 6 year battle with breast cancer in January.

“It means so much to the James River Community, because she meant so much to the James River Community,” says Physical Education teacher Tasha West.

Roarty’s passing hit the student body and staff hard.

“She made kids feel special. She made anyone she ran into feel special,” says teacher Meg Heysell.

Roarty taught students like Oscar Guardardo no matter how difficult the road? Never give up.

Family, friends and colleagues gather in front of the newly dedicated  outdoor classroom. (PHOTO: Greg McQuade)

Family, friends and colleagues gather in front of the newly dedicated outdoor classroom. (PHOTO: Greg McQuade)

died in January after a six-year battle with breast cancer.

“She was a beautiful lady inside and out. And she was a symbol of our school,” says Guardardo. “Her battle against cancer was unlike any other. She had a resolve to maintain her kindness and to maintain her fortitude.”

When the idea was hatched to build an outdoor classroom there was no hesitation that the building would be dedicated to Mrs. Roarty.

“She loved the outdoors. She loved sports so I think the outdoor classroom is the perfect thing to dedicate to her,” says Senior Olivia Guthrow.

Graduate Jordan Atkins, with the help of fellow students and grant money, built the structure by hand.

“When I found out she passed I was brought to tears. I was very sad but I’m very happy we can do something in honor of her memory,” says Atkins.

Mrs. Roarty may not have been here for the dedication, but her friends say her legacy will always live on in her classroom.

Physical Education teacher, Kieley Thomas says “We still have a sign on the door says ‘I love my students because they make me smile every day’ and we’ve left it there. She hasn’t left. She hasn’t left.”

Many of the student and staff wore “Keep Calm and Carrie On” T-shirts to the dedication of the outdoor classroom. Proceeds from the t-shirt sales will benefit a scholarship fund for Carrie Roarty’s two young children.

Carrie Roarty collage