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Abbie L. Hoisington

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Abbie Hoisington, 28, 'expected the best' for pupils

Abbie L. Hoisington's students say it the best.

"She taught us about honesty, confidence, kindness and respect for one another and ourselves," said one.

"She cared about us and expected the best for us and never gave up on us," said another.

Ms. Hoisington, 28, of Cranston, was a special-education teacher at Burrillville High School. Though she had been there less than a year, the talkative teacher -- affectionately known as Gabby Abbie -- had made many friends.

Abbie's interest in special education began in high school when her teachers encouraged her to get involved with the Special Education Club, her family said. Soon after, she volunteered to work with the Special Olympics. Then she majored in special education at the University of Southern Connecticut.

But she didn't teach just academics. She taught life skills. Abbie took her students grocery shopping and gave them cooking lessons. She took them bowling, and sailing on her parents' boat. She and her students made soap and sold it to help raise money for classroom accessories, including a refrigerator they had hoped to buy.

She was a constant advocate for her students.

"She was a pit bull for something she believed in," said her mother, Bonnie A. Hoisington, of Cranston.

Abbie wasn't a fan of Great White, the band playing at The Station the night of the fire. She went because her friend, Lisa D'Andrea, a special education teacher in Cranston, asked her to come, Mrs. Hoisington said. Lisa D'Andrea, 42, of Barrington, also died in the fire.

Abbie loved music and stepdancing. She collected everything: clothes, CDs, perfumes, and for some reason, pigs. Her family left a porcelain pig at the fire site in memory of her.

But mostly, she lived for her students, her mother said.

One of her former pupils, Samuel "Sammy" F. Muskelly, 18, sang at her funeral.

Sammy said Ms. Hoisington put up with his 13-year-old bad attitude and always kept him motivated when he was in her class at Hope Middle School in Providence. When he invited her to his plays or talent shows, she would always attend.

"All the high notes that I can't hit, I was hitting them because she came out there for me," he said.

Sammy still knows her telephone number by heart.

"She was like E.F. Hutton to me. When she talked, I listened," he said. "I knew what she was telling me was the right way."

-- Cathleen Crowley, Providence Journal staff

Published in The Providence Journal on Mar. 20, 2003
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