After Rachel N. Quinn, a teacher at Bretton Woods Elementary School in Hauppauge, died, her husband Nathan Quinn wanted a way to honor her memory so he created the Rachel Quinn Children's Foundation. The foundation aims to preserve the legacy of Rachel, who used to share her "always be kind" mantra with her students.  Credit: Newsday/Reece T. Williams

Charity has bloomed from tragedy for the family and friends determined to continue the legacy of kindness of a beloved Hauppauge teacher who died weeks before giving birth. 

Rachel N. Quinn was 27 when she died suddenly last June 14 from a heart abnormality. Her first child, Ellie Anne Quinn, who was due within weeks, also died. Quinn’s husband, siblings and co-workers have established a foundation in her name to help children in need.

Quinn was a special-education teacher at Bretton Woods Elementary School in Hauppauge whose mantra was “always be kind.” The Rachel Quinn Children’s Foundation promises to build on that theme by rewarding acts of kindness and aiding students who cannot afford school supplies.

Rachel Quinn at her baby shower in 2021. Quinn died suddenly...

Rachel Quinn at her baby shower in 2021. Quinn died suddenly last June 14 from a heart abnormality. Her first child, Ellie Anne Quinn, who was due within weeks, also died. Credit: Nathan Quinn

“We’re embodying the two things that Rachel thought were most important, which is helping children and kindness,” said Quinn’s husband, Nathan, who is the foundation’s president. “She would have helped a lot of children if she had worked a full career, but she didn’t get that opportunity so we’re going to help her do that.”  

In June, the foundation will give out eight “kindness awards” with $100 Amazon gift cards to students in the Hauppauge and Patchogue-Medford school districts. The organization also aims in August to distribute more than 100 backpacks filled with school supplies.

The kindness awards will be determined by teachers and will recognize students who help their classmates or their community, said Nathan Quinn, 32. The backpacks will be filled with items such as binders, glue sticks and pens. The foundation is working with the districts to find students in need, he said, and it plans to add a new district each year. There are 124 school districts in Nassau and Suffolk counties. 

Some of the supplies will come from Rachel Quinn’s own stash. The Patchogue resident kept drawers packed with items in her basement in case students needed them. She felt children should have “an equal playing field” when it came to learning, her husband said.

Board member Danielle Sukoff, 45, co-taught with Quinn in their 4th-grade classroom and said Quinn sought to know each child individually.

“She would always go out of her way for every student, whether it was socially, emotionally, financially,” Sukoff said. “Rachel had a genuine way about her that was just so kind and nurturing. She was like a security blanket for them.”

A memorial of stones for Rachel Quinn at Bretton Woods...

A memorial of stones for Rachel Quinn at Bretton Woods Elementary School in Hauppauge, where she taught special-education students. Credit: Reece T. Williams

Quinn’s friend Caitlyn Eccleston, 28, who is on the board, said Quinn would have been “over the moon” to know her loved ones are helping students.

The foundation also ended up serving another role: easing Quinn’s devastated family and friends through their grief.

“Everyone was just so angry and upset,” said her sister, Reanna Battaglia, 21, of Smithtown, secretary for the board. “It was a good outlet to focus on something positive.”

Nathan Quinn said the idea of creating a legacy for his wife, a native of Hauppauge, kept him going.  

Rachel Quinn's husband, Nathan, displays a tattoo that features his...

Rachel Quinn's husband, Nathan, displays a tattoo that features his wife and their late daughter. “This foundation helped me more than anything in getting through this because it gave me a purpose,” he said. “I knew this was something that would make Rachel proud of me.” Credit: Reece T. Williams

“This foundation helped me more than anything in getting through this because it gave me a purpose,” he said. “I knew this was something that would make Rachel proud of me.”

The organization’s first fundraising event is June 14 at The Better Man Distilling Co. in Patchogue. To buy tickets or donate, go to rqcfoundation.org.

CHILDREN IN NEED

During the 2020-2021 school year:

95% of teachers said their classroom supply budget would not be enough to meet students’ needs.

Teachers spent an average of $750 of their own money for school supplies for their homes, classrooms and students.

30% of teachers spent $1,000 or more on school supplies each year

SOURCE: 2021 survey by national nonprofit AdoptAClassroom.org

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