Students, teachers and administrators in Payson Schools are mourning the loss of one of the district’s most beloved teachers.
Cynthia Pool, 46, a Payson High School chemistry teacher for the past three years, was struck and killed by a tractor-trailer as she and a close friend, Margaret Starnes, cycled June 9 through Wyoming on a cross country Trans America trip.
The Wyoming High-way Patrol says Pool was pronounced dead at the intersection of State Route 789 and 28, about 10 miles south of Lander. Reportedly, the driver of the tractor-trailer failed to yield the right-of-way to the cyclists. Starnes avoided the collision, and was not injured.
Reports from the scene indicate Pool saved her friend’s life, shouting warnings as the truck bore down on the two.
Their husbands, Roy Pool and David Starnes, each in support vehicles, accompanied the two on the trip.
Payson High School Assistant Principal Tim Fruth said a celebration of life is scheduled for 6 p.m. June 17 in the Payson High auditorium.
At Taylor Pool, where most of the lifeguards once had Pool as a teacher, a special tribute is being planned for June 13.
“We are planning a memorial tribute,” said aquatics coordinator Deb Rose. “The lifeguards are putting together a memorial team to compete in the sprint triathlon in honor of Mrs. Pool.”
At last year’s sprint triathlon, Pool competed on a three-person team with lifeguards Lucy Schouten and Kadi Ward. At the onset of tomorrow’s sprint triathlon, about 6:30 a.m., Pool’s former students will read a specially prepared memoir in her honor. Also tomorrow, during free swim from 1 to 5 p.m., the $1 admission charge will be donated to the Pool family.
On the evening of June 10, at Payson High School, many of Pool’s former students gathered for a prayer meeting and to remember her. Among those to attend was Ward, a student in Pool’s advanced placement chemistry class last year.
“It was amazing to me to hear how all her students remembered her in exactly the same way,” Ward said. “To all of us, she was a teacher with a giving heart and one who was really dedicated and caring. She was always willing to listen and talk, and not just about school stuff.”
Payson High Principal Roy Sandoval said Pool “stimulated the minds and touched the hearts of students and staff alike. Her impact was profound.”
Pool was The Payson Roundup’s Feature Teacher in the Sept. 16, 2008 edition. In the interview, she told the Roundup she took up teaching late in life, after a career as a chemical engineer, because “the most important thing we can do is to improve the lives of others.
“I enjoy showing students the opportunities that are available to them in science and technology.”
She also identified her pet peeve as “people who don’t give 100 percent.”
Those who knew Pool realize she never came up short of giving 100 percent effort, as evidenced by her athletic accomplishments in running, biking and triathlons.
She competed in more than 12 marathons, including the Boston Marathon four times. She also competed in the famed Ironman Triathlon World Champions in Hawaii, qualified for the World Duathlon Championships and recently won two road-biking Arizona state championships.
Pool began cycling in 1994 to supplement running training and quickly became one of the finest cyclists on the road racing circuit, winning championships at the Snow Bowl Hill Climb, Wupatki Road Race, Sonoita-Patagonia Time Trial and the Masters Arizona Time Trial.
During the cross-country cycling trip, Pool and Starnes kept a blog. It can be viewed at: http://web.me.com/cynthiapool/Margaret_and_Cindys_Bike_Trip/Welcome.html.
Pool is survived by her husband, a retired high school science teacher; three sons, Joey (25), Jamie (24) and David (23); and two sisters, Denise Filson of Carlisle, Pa. and Dawn Mitchell of Pinehurst, North Carolina.
Sympathy cards to Pool’s family can be mailed to P.O. Box 1043, Tonto Basin, Arizona 85553.
In lieu of flowers, the family is requesting donations be given to the Lance Armstrong Foundation. Forms will be available at the celebration of life.