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Laurie Blake
Excellence in Education Award

Laurie Blake endeared herself to others as a spirited individual whose sincere enthusiasm enabled her to make lasting personal connections. She established these connections while serving in a variety of roles at North Attleboro High School.

Mrs. Blake joined the HS staff as a full-time English teacher in the fall of 2002 and quickly established herself as a knowledgeable, creative teacher who was eager to share her enthusiasm for her subjects. She taught Freshman English, Gothic Literature, Effective Writing and Mystery Story, but her favorite class was Creative Writing, where she encouraged students to think "outside the box."

However, like all good teachers, Mrs. Blake taught life lessons that went far beyond the classroom. In her dedication of the 2013 Northern Light Yearbook to Mrs. Blake, student editor Brianna Arrighi ('13) wrote: "She showed us how to be ourselves, how to embrace who we are without caring what anyone else thought. She showed us what it means to be passionate about something through her love for her job, running and her dog. . . She taught more than just literature; she taught life lessons that have made all of us better people."

Even before she joined the faculty, Mrs. Blake had begun working with North students, serving in 1990 as an assistant coach for both the boys and girls outdoor track teams. She served as head coach for girls indoor track from 1994-1996. Colleague Dwight Estey, also an Excellence in Education Award winner, remembers that Laurie's passion for distance running was obvious from day one. Affectionately referred to as "the energizer bunny," Coach Blake’s style was more nurturing than commanding, and she served as an excellent role model by logging high mileage both with her team and in her own preparation for several runs in the Boston Marathon. Estey also recalls that Laurie was popular with the Hockomock League coaches and friendly with runners from all schools. Mrs. Blake also served for several years as a class advisor and member of the National Honor Society Selection Committee.

When asked to recall the things that satisfied Laurie the most about teaching at NAHS, her husband, Pat, indicated that it was her personal relationships with her students and the love she received in return from them. She would frequently share with him the many cards she received from current and former students wishing to thank Mrs. Blake for her profound influence on their lives. Common messages were "Mrs. Blake, thank you for making me feel special," "Mrs. Blake, thank you for making learning fun," and "Mrs. Blake, thank you for being there for me when I needed someone to talk to." But her favorite was always "I love you Mrs. Blake."

A visit to the patio outside the HS cafeteria that was dedicated in Mrs. Blake's honor last spring, and to Room 221 inside the High School, offer tangible proof of Laurie's lasting influence on her students and our school. Covering the entire back wall of the classroom is a mural painted by Aimee MacDonald ('07) that was inspired by Mrs. Blake. After completing this project, MacDonald became convinced that her life's passion was to be an artist, and she has never looked back.

Sadly, Mrs. Blake passed away in May 2013. However, for her personal approach to educating all students and encouraging their creative spirit, we honor Laurie Blake, posthumously, with the 2015 NAHS Alumni Association Excellence in Education Award.