Ridgetop teacher’s memory will live on

Miriam Snyder - Courtesy photo
Miriam Snyder
— image credit: Courtesy photo

The legacy of a Ridgetop Junior High School teacher lost in a tragic accident will continue to blossom for future generations.

Students and staff plan to add to the white and red roses Miriam Snyder initially planted in the courtyard to memorialize her “generous and uplifting spirit,” according to school officials.

Snyder, 44, was riding her 2000 Kawasaki VN800A motorcycle Saturday afternoon, May 30 on State Route 308 near Keyport when she collided with a 2004 Chevrolet Trailblazer driven by a 20-year-old Silverdale woman. Snyder died at the scene.

Snyder was riding eastbound on SR 308 approaching Central Valley Road in front of her husband Michael, 46, who also was on a 2000 Kawasaki VN8000A bike, when the Silverdale woman turned left in front of the two motorcycles, according to Washington State Patrol (WSP) reports. Snyder was unable to avoid the collision and struck the Trailblazer. Michael laid his bike down to avoid hitting the Trailblazer. Neither Michael nor the driver of the Trailblazer were injured.

WSP continues to investigate the accident. There has been discussion in the community that the 20-year-old was using a cell phone at the time of the collision, though it has not been proven.

“To his point, we have discovered no evidence as her cell phone being a contributing factor in this collision,” said Trooper Krista Hedstrom, WSP spokeswoman. “The collision remains under investigation.”

“This week has been difficult for Ridgetop with the unexpected death of Miriam Snyder, one of our special education teachers and a vital part of our Ridgetop community,” Ridgetop principals Lee Noble and Barb Gilchrist said in a statement to the CK Reporter. “Miriam was a caring teacher and was very special to all of us.”

Snyder, who also was a reading coach at the junior high, had taught there for six years. School counselor Steven Lee called her impact on students’ lives “deep and wide.”

“Miriam engaged not only kids she currently had in class, but anyone who came into her presence,” he said. “One student reported that she had already picked him out of the crowd as a student she would have next year and already had started working on him. He reported that the last thing she had said to him was to tell him a joke on Friday about chickens and cats cans. He loved the attention from someone who didn’t have to care. That’s Miriam.”

Staff came together before school Monday to share information and further plan assistance for students, according to school officials. Several substitutes were available to take over for staff who needed support throughout the week.

Students were made aware of Snyder’s death during their first period classes Monday. Central Kitsap School District’s Grief Response Team, made up of counselors from throughout the district, were present at the school throughout the first part of the week.

“Students organized a candlelight vigil Monday evening,” Noble and Gilchrist stated. “Words of comfort and outreach were shared by students, families and staff regarding the legacy of hope, respect and care that Miriam shared with everyone at Ridgetop Junior High.

“Staff and students are honoring Miriam’s legacy by sharing poems and picture tributes with her family. We continue to be encouraged, comforted and grateful for the support we are receiving from the community during this time.”

As for the grieving process, that will take time, Lee said.

“We are still processing that we have lost her, that she is not just on another great trip into the world that she so enjoyed,” he said. “One develops a habit of knowing Miriam will be standing just outside her door during passing times, sharing greetings and “verbally motivating” staff and kids alike.

“She is not there, and the building seems to be out of balance right now. It will take us time to begin figuring out how to fill her sandals.”

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