Terror victim's young students say goodbye
Former students at the all-girls state-religious school Noam HaMeiri in Lod, where Haya Salomon taught 1st and 2nd graders for 18 years, remember how they would accidentally call her 'mom'; while she never had children of her own, 'she was devoted to her girls,' says vice principal.
After hearing the terrible news, some of her former students remembered how they "always called her 'mom' by accident, instead of 'Haya' or 'Teacher.'" Haya herself was never married and did not get to start a family of her own.
Salomon, 46, worked as a teacher at the all-girls state-religious school Noam HaMeiri in Lod for 18 years. She spent most of those years as the homeroom teacher of 1st and 2nd grade students.
Last week, she won the title "Lod's Excelling Teacher" and was honored at a small ceremony held for her at the school, but to the city ceremony, which will be held at the start of the next school year, she won't get to go.
"She educated an entire generation of students and was an incredible teacher," Oranit Altshuler, the vice principal at the school, told Ynet. "Haya knew how to let each of her students express themselves, she always knew where each of them were, she'd write personal notes for each of them in their report card. It was very important to her to have the girls reach academic accomplishments. But more than that, she cared about instilling values, good character, friendship between the students. If something happened in class, it was important to her to talk about it and resolve it. She wanted the students to respect one another. She was devoted to the girls."
Haya also served as coordinator for class trips and for road safety education at the school. The vice principal described her as a hardworking teacher who arrived every day at 7:15am (with classes starting at 8am) to ensure she would never be late.
"When her class needed something, she'd do everything to make it happen," Altshuler said.
Haya even taught Altshuler's two girls, who are now aged 17 and 19. "Yesterday was a very difficult day for them. They opened their 1st and 2nd grade report cards, their notebooks, and they remembered Haya. I think that says everything there is to say about her. This is not a teacher who taught them two or three years ago, yet they still feel so attached to her."
The special bond between Haya and her mother Tovah, who was wounded in the attack, was known to all. "I remember her stories about her parents, her siblings and nieces and nephews. She was very close to her mother, they did everything together. Her cellphone wallpaper is a photo of her with her nieces and nephews."
Altshuler learned of the attack at the end of Shabbat. "My son is a team commander in the army, and when Shabbat ended he got a message saying he had to get ready and leave. We realized it was because there was a terror attack, and when I asked him he said it was in Halamish," she said.
Altshuler still did not know that Haya, her brother Elad and father Yosef, were the victims. "I sent her a message, saying I understood she had a difficult Shabbat and that I hoped everything was okay. A minute later I saw I had an unanswered call from Haya's best friend, and then I realized," she recounted.
Despite the summer vacation, students from all grades arrived at the school with their parents. They met with the pedagogical staff as well as with municipal psychologists.
"Every teacher and professional sat with a group of students and talked to them, told them what happened, asked what they knew. They drew and wrote Haya touching and lovely letters," Altshuler said.