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Beloved East Northport Teacher to be Memorialized as Book Character

Students of Middle School English teacher Leslie Spanko rallied her favorite author to name one of his characters after her.

East Northport English teacher Leslie Spanko, who died overnight Thursday, will have a character named after her in Tim Green's upcoming book, thanks to the efforts of her students and community members. Photo courtesy of Theresa and John Braun.
East Northport English teacher Leslie Spanko, who died overnight Thursday, will have a character named after her in Tim Green's upcoming book, thanks to the efforts of her students and community members. Photo courtesy of Theresa and John Braun.

After the recent passing of their beloved English teacher Leslie Spanko on Thursday, East Northport Middle School students and community members banded together to memorialize her in a way fit for a reading teacher – in a book.

In an outpouring of emotion and support from parents, teachers and students, the community petitioned to have one of her favorite authors, Tim Green, name a character in one of his upcoming books after her.

Green, a former National Football League player turned author, was holding a Facebook contest for his readers to have one of his characters named after them. Within two days, more than a thousand votes were cast for Spanko, who worked in the school district for 40 years, making her the clear winner.

“Leslie has inspired an entire town and I don't think she can be beaten,” Green wrote on his Facebook page.

On Monday, students and staff of East Northport Middle School will be wearing red to honor Spanko’s memory. 

“The Northport-East Northport School community mourns the tragic death of East Northport Middle School English teacher Leslie Spanko. Ms. Spanko's passion for reading, love of teaching, and thirst for knowledge was contagious. Her dedication and kind spirit will continue to live on in our hearts. The students and staff of East Northport Middle School will honor her memory by wearing red on Monday, December 16, 2013. They invite our entire school community to join them,” Superintendent Marylou McDermott, wrote on the district’s website.

Green, who had visited the school two weeks ago, said that the contest’s runner-up will also have a character named after him or her.
Dan Mirabile December 15, 2013 at 08:49 PM
Leslie Spanko was a wonderful educator and is irreplaceable. I feel blessed to have had her for English in both 7th and 8th grade and getting to be her colleague these last six school years only added to the admiration I have for her. She impacted my life positively in many ways and for that I am forever greatful.
Ashley Palko December 16, 2013 at 07:20 AM
I LOVED this teacher in middle school. So sad to hear of her passing. She was quirky and funny and just a great teacher. I'm pretty sure she was the one who organized a bake sale and read-a-thon to raise money for a handicapped swing at the ENPT Library. I just noticed that the swing is gone a few months ago. We should get a new one in her memory.

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