By DASCHELL M. PHILLIPS
The Hyde Park community is mourning the death of Canter Middle School teacher Paul Goldsmith who died due to complications from a heart attack on Thursday, May 16. Goldsmith, a long time Chicago Public School (CPS) math teacher, had been working at Canter for the past four years until his sudden death.
Colleen Conlan, principal at Canter, 4959 S. Blackstone Ave., said the school has taken extraordinary measures to help students cope with the loss. The school notified parents by calling and sending letters that included guidance on discussing the matter with their children.
“Paul was a gentle giant with a commanding presence and he will be sorely missed by our entire Canter family,” Conlan said. “The Chicago Public Schools’ Crisis Management Unit was at the school on Friday to provide grief counseling and support to students as well as staff members.”
Rebecca Collins, science teacher at Canter, said she worked with Goldsmith for 16 years, first at Dyett, 555 E. 51st St., when it was a middle school, then at Canter. She said although the students thought he was the best math teacher in the world, his connection with them was so much more that just academic.
“He was so into making sure that the students made something of themselves and weren’t into gangs or standing on the street corners,” Collins said. “He was a big man with a big presence and anytime he’d hear or see something he didn’t like he’d say to the students ‘get yourselves together, the big dog is here,’ and then he’d bark a bit.”
Collins said the school is working with the students to plan a remembrance ceremony for Goldsmith in the school’s garden.
A memorial service is being planned.