Remembering Patti . . .

On April 7, 2008, Phoenix Academy lost its founder, Patricia “Patti” Clark. She founded the school in 1990 with just one student and since that time over 2,000 children have attended. Many members of the Omaha community grieve for her and have shared their gratitude for establishing Phoenix Academy in the messages below.

To Patti’s family & friends,

In a 7th grade poetry assignment titled “I am from”, Taylor wrote “I am from Mrs. Clark…she taught me to read”. We have wonderful memories of Patti and her staff at Phoenix Academy. She was the best
Carol & Taylor Schrum
Omaha, NE

My deepest sympathy to the family of Patti Clark. Be proud of her and know, yes, she will be missed; But most of all she will be remembered for her tireless work and love of helping children succeed when they were convinced they could not. My personal admiration of Patti is two-fold. Our son, Charlie, attended Phoenix Academy from 3rd grade until he entered Westside High School. Many times over the years he has shared with me, “Mom, I could do that because of Phoenix Academy and what they taught me.” I also worked for Patti for several years introducing the “physical” connection to her academic program. What a lady, what a Legacy, what pride you must all feel knowing she’s your family. May she rest in peace and God bless you all.
Jan Elffner ,
Omaha, NE

My sympathy to the family and friends of Patti. I have known her since 1977 when she introduced me to a method of teaching reading that literally set the direction of my life. I will always be grateful to God for placing this wonderful woman in my path. Her life attests to the fact that “one person can change the world”. Her wisdom and concern for all children will be missed. May she rest in peace.
Therese Paladino
Omaha, NE,

To Patti’s family and dear friend Ann Mactier,

What a wonderful woman we have lost! – a champion for all children; and a woman who believed that all children could learn to read and write. Patti also believed that too many children are placed into Special Education.

My grandson Mykel Spurlock, was one of the many children blessed to have attended Phoenix Academy. He is now attending college. Patti was as proud of him as I am. I know that he would not have finished high school had he not first attended Phoenix Academy at Patti’s suggestion and generosity. Patti’s true legacy is the success of all of the children, like Mykel, who benefit and have benefitted from Patti’s vision of a school that could teach reading, spelling, and writing, using the Spaulding method, to children who were ready to learn; yet had not experienced success in other schools.

My family will miss Patti Clark dearly
Karen Shepard
Charlottesville, VA

Dear Family,
Patti was one of the most wonderful people i have ever known. I saw her ad in the paper one day when I was at the end of hope on how to help my daughter. I visited with her for over an hour and realized that due to our finances I would never be able to afford Phoenix Academy. Yet, she saw the passion that I had for my daughter and her education. She gave me a job cleaning the school in exchange for her tuition. But, she never let me feel that what she gave me was charity or that our family was less then any other family there. We formed a friendship that I will hold dear all of my life. She was an amazingly special soul.
My daughter entered the school in the second grade without the ability to read even the word “the” yet within 3 months she reading at a 5th grade level. She is now in 9th grade doing wonderful and loves school. She reads often for pleasure. I have no idea where we would be with out her compassion and giving nature. I have thanked her often but I don’t think I could ever tell her how much I love her. Thank you so much for sharing her with us.

–Education is not filling a bucket, but lighting a fire. – William Yeats
Danielle Staton
Omaha, NE

Dear children and family of Patti:

A neat lady, a good friend and excellent contributing member of the community.
Patti will be missed by all……
Raquel H. Newman
San Francisco, CA

Dear Sam, Dave, and Andy —

I just learned of your mom’s passing and I wanted to express my condolences. Patti was both one of the great people and one of the nice people — and she let you know she loved you in a clear and happy way that I always cherished.

I have so many fond memories of your mom that I would like to share with you, but in person. I look forward to my next visit to Omaha, and will call you then.

One thing is clear about Patti: She raised a lot more kids than just you three (and me, in part!) — and she left behind a lot more both happy souls and grieving hearts than most people do, because she touched so many lives in ways both personal and profound.

My condolences to you on your loss. And my love to you as ‘half-brothers’ — on behalf of myself and my siblings.

Peter B. Newman
San Rafael, CA

Our thoughts and prayers go out to Patti’s family. She was an incredible woman that gave a lot of kids hope for a brighter future. She will be greatly missed.
Kris and Karrie Kudlacz
Omaha, NE

The number of lives that have been touched,
The number of students who have been taught,
The number of people who have been blessed,
Because of the life of Patti Clark
Is a number far larger than I can comprehend…
And I am a math teacher!

Patti, you will be missed,
But never ever forgotten!

For every child
Who has become more successful
Due to your influence
And the efforts of Phoenix Academy,
Continues to carry hope of a brighter future,
Made possible through the life of
One miraculous woman: Patti Clark!

My daughter, Jacyntha,
Was officially the student,
Yet, as a summer school teacher
These past few summers at your school,
I was the one to learn the most
Working with you, Patti.

I am at a loss for words…
(And those of you who know me
Realize that never happens.)
Patti, you will be missed,
But never ever forgotten!

Patience: in time, the grass becomes milk! ~ajah
Anita Jo Harder Afsahi
Omaha, NE

To Patti’s Family –

I was so sorry to hear of your loss. Please let me know if there is anything I can do to help at this time. Patti was an amazing woman who accomplished much and left behind a legacy of literacy as she touched the lives of so many through the years. You are in my thoughts and prayers.

Susan G. Harder
Omaha, NE

Patricia Clark and Phoenix Academy will always be remembered as a champion of teaching kids to read. My son Travis was 11 and did not know how to read. Patti took Travis and taught him to read and prepared him for a lifetime of success. Omaha has lost a great champion for teaching kids to read. Travis and I will always be in debt to Patti Clark for Travis’ success in life because of his ability to read

Travis & Ellen Ackerman
Omaha, NE

Patti will be remembered and missed by all who have known her. She was an advocate of children who benefited from her knowledge and love of learning. She was instrumental in showing me the path that I follow to this day.
My deepest sympathy to her family.

Marilyn Greene
Papillion, NE

My deepest sympathy to the family for the loss of a dear friend and a champion of children.

Patti’s courage and dedication were instrumental in changing the future for over 2,000 children, including my oldest son Philip, who was a student at Phoenix Academy in 1993. Patti taught me and many other parents to look at the whole child and not the problem with the child . . . not what he can’t do, but what we have not taught him to do. Patti inspired me to follow in her footsteps. She was my hero and I will miss her.

Linda Moreland-Weinmaster
Lawrence, KS

I worked several years teaching for Patti and she was my dear friend and role model as well as former employer. I’ve always said I want to reach my golden years with as much ambition as she had. We met for lunch in early January–a pleasant afternoon of stimulating conversation that I’m really going to miss. She not only networked tirelessly for literacy, but also inspired others to do so as well. Patti had a heart of gold.

Becky Fendrick
Omaha, NE

Patti was such a wonderful and caring person who will be greatly missed. She took such great joy in the school and the children that she was so inspired by. May the many memories you shared bring you all comfort in your time of sorrow.
Holly Kahler
Gretna, NE

To Patti’s family,
My child attended Phoenix Academy and my other children attended summer school. They all knew Patti and they benefitted from knowing her, not just academically but because she was an adult that always took time to listen and care. She would take them aside to say hi or just to talk. I volunteered for a time and remember when a little girl came in on her own, by way of a taxi cab just to get Patti’s help. Other people might have dismissed her without an adult, but Patti dropped what she was doing and listened to the girl pour out her problems and her need for Patti’s services.
Her influence and her memory will carry on for years by way of all the children she touched. Thank you for sharing her with us. Our prayers are with you.
Brad, Stacy, Megan, Ryan, Tim & Sean

Stacy Ryan
Omaha, NE