Mattydale Jeanelle Cross was the kind of teacher other teachers aspired to be.
“Jeanelle was beloved by everyone,” said Jackie Grace, principal of Roxboro Road Elementary in Mattydale, where Cross was the resource teacher. “She clearly loved her job and loved what she was doing. She loved kids. She was such a joy to be around, such a positive force.”
Cross lost her battle with breast cancer in September of 2012, not long after she initiated an effort to construct a new playground at RRE. When the school dedicated that finished playground on June 23, they did so in her memory.
The original playground was built when the school was completed in 1956. Though it’s seen several upgrades since then, it had gotten to the point where it could no longer accommodate RRE’s students. The school itself underwent significant renovations in the early 2000s. When those were completed, the school was an entire wing larger, and the North Syracuse Central School District redistricted, giving RRE more than 200 additional students.
“With this increase in our student population, our transient population, and our continually growing class sizes, the current playground is too small to accommodate the approximate 650-plus students we now have in our building,” said Courtright, third grade teacher at RRE, member of the RRE Parent-Teacher Group (PTG) and chairperson of the RRE Playground Committee. “At the end of the day, when many of our teachers choose to have their recess time, our playground is often overcrowded. Despite the supervision of our teachers around the playground area, the continued safety of our students has become a concern due to the limited space being used for this exercise and recreation area. Teachers often worry about having our younger kindergarten through second grade students with the older third and fourth grade students during this time period, and at times some even take their classes back inside because of the number of students on the playground.”