Rachel N. Quinn lived her life guided by the virtue of kindness.
She stressed it to her students at Bretton Woods Elementary School in Hauppauge, where her fifth-grade class webpage prominently displays an illustration that states, "In a world where you can be anything, be kind." The Patchogue resident wrote she wanted two ideas to be constantly reflected on during the school year: to "always put forth your best effort and a growth mindset"; and to "choose kindness."
Like many children, Quinn had been bullied at times in school, said her best friend of 21 years, Caitlyn Hansen of Hauppauge.
"I think when Rachel decided to become a teacher, she wanted to instill that kindness in every student of hers, in every person she met," said Hansen, 27. "I think that was something she just always wanted to embody herself and to share with others."
Quinn, 27, an expectant mother, died suddenly of a heart abnormality on June 14 at Long Island Community Hospital in East Patchogue. Her first child, Ellie Anne Quinn, who was due within weeks, also died.
Quinn, nee Battaglia, was born in 1994 and grew up in Smithtown, where she went to school in the Hauppauge district, taking part in cheerleading and chorus. She went on to get a bachelor’s degree in child study and a master’s in literacy and cognition from St. Joseph’s College in Patchogue.
Quinn always sought to become a teacher in the district she attended, her family said. She spent the past three years at Bretton Woods, teaching fifth-grade and then fourth-grade special-education students, said her husband, Nate, 32.
"A good teacher can change a child’s life and can give them the confidence to become a better person," said Nate Quinn, an air traffic controller. "She wanted to be that person for kids in Hauppauge and really make a difference in some child’s life."
Danielle Sukoff, Rachel Quinn’s co-teacher in the classroom, arranged to have a tree planted in front of the school in her memory. The redbud tree, which has heart-shaped leaves, was donated by Olsen’s Nursery in Smithtown, and Quinn’s students and family held a small ceremony last week.
"It signifies all the love she had for her students and that she gave to our entire community," said Bretton Woods’ principal, George Gagliardi. "She was a loving, kind person who had a great passion for teaching and always put her students first."
In addition, the school’s special-education PTA has renamed its annual kindness award after Quinn. The award, which this year was given to fifth-graders Sadie Fox and Sahmuel Babyak, comes with a $25 Amazon gift card, but Nate Quinn gave the children each an additional $250 gift card.
When she wasn’t in the classroom, Rachel Quinn could usually be found dancing or reading. She doted on her cat, Colt, whom she adopted despite a neurological condition that makes it difficult for him to walk.
After the couple adopted their miniature poodle, named Winnie after Quinn’s favorite animated character, Winnie the Pooh, she told her husband she wanted to bring the dog to libraries while she read to young children.
Quinn also was a talented singer who loved to belt out songs such as "Shallow" from the 2018 film "A Star is Born." During a cruise to Bermuda, the band was so impressed with what they heard from Quinn that they pulled her from the crowd and onto the stage to sing, her husband recalled.
Quinn met her future husband in 2015 at a St. Patrick’s Day parade in Patchogue. Three years later, the couple married. Nate Quinn said his then-fiancee chose Lombardi’s on the Bay in Patchogue as the venue because she wanted to be married at a location where the couple could return years later for dinner with their children.
"She saw it and said, ‘This is it. We can take our kids here and show them where Mommy and Daddy got married,’ " her husband said.
Quinn adored children.
"Every time we’d see a child, she’d always want to hold them if they needed comfort," he said. "She was so excited to have a baby. She was ready to spoil our daughter so much."
Quinn was known for her generosity and thoughtfulness, whether it was picking out just the right gift or planning a surprise 60th birthday party for her parents. Weeks ago, Quinn sent out thank-you cards after her baby shower and took the time to "write everyone a novel" using pink ink, Hansen said.
"Everything had a good intention and was just so thoughtful, positive and kind," she said. "She always took that extra step with everything she did."
Quinn’s favorite saying was a quote from the movie "Pooh’s Grand Adventure: The Search for Christopher Robin":
"If ever there’s a tomorrow when we’re not together, there’s something you must remember ... You’re braver than you believe and stronger than you seem and smarter than you think. But the most important thing is even if we are apart, I’ll always be with you."
Her brother, Rob Battaglia, 28, of Smithtown, said the quote reflects his sister’s attitude toward others.
"She was someone who really just tried to get the most out of life and give back to society as much as possible, just tried to make the world a better place," he said. "She had a big impact in a short amount of time."
In addition to her husband and brother, Quinn is survived by her parents, Sandra and Robert Battaglia, and a younger sister, Reanna Battaglia, all of Smithtown.
Quinn and her daughter were buried at St. Charles Cemetery in East Farmingdale.