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Susan Stuckey funeral service Wednesday in Naperville

<p>Principal Susan Stuckey stretches the ribbon in front of the school sculpture before the dedication ceremony in 2011 at Highlands Elementary School. Stuckey lost her battle with cancer Jan. 8 at age 50. | Jane Donahue/For Sun-Times Media</p>

Principal Susan Stuckey stretches the ribbon in front of the school sculpture before the dedication ceremony in 2011 at Highlands Elementary School. Stuckey lost her battle with cancer Jan. 8 at age 50. | Jane Donahue/For Sun-Times Media

Susan Stuckey was many things to so many people. But to Highlands Elementary, she was the heart and soul of the downtown Naperville school.

“The passion, enthusiasm and commitment Susan Stuckey exemplified every day not only as an educator, a leader and a principal, but as a person, made her truly one of a kind,” said Highlands parent Wendy Serafin. “The example she set forth will be remembered by our Highlands community forever. She was truly ‘all for the kids.’”

Stuckey, 50, passed away Jan. 8 surrounded by her family after a courageous 3-½-year battle with cancer. She left behind her husband, Jeffrey, and a vast circle of friends, family and co-workers, and her faithful dog, Scout.

“Susan Stuckey inspired her students with her enthusiasm for learning, the parents with her devotion and commitment to their children’s education and the community with her legacy,” said Shannon Gilfillan, a Highlands parent. “I will remember her infectious smile and how she taught our kids how to face adversity with grace, courage and humor.”

Stuckey grew up in Bellflower, Ill., and graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1985 with a degree in education. She later received her master’s degree from Illinois State University and taught for two years before becoming principal at Spring Hills Elementary School in Roselle.

She was hired by District 203 in 1996 to serve as principal at Ranchview Elementary and then moved to Highlands where she was serving in her 13th year as principal.

“We have students in our schools whose lives were changed by having Mrs. Stuckey as their principal,”said District 203 Superintendent Dan Bridges, in a written statement. “We have staff who are feeling the loss of a mentor and a friend. And we have a community who has lost a remarkable educational leader.”

Highlands fifth-grade teacher Brian Hunger said Stuckey’s passion made everyone around her a better educator.

“Susan’s passion inspired us to follow our passions and share them with our students,” said Hunger, a longtime Highlands staff member. “I will remember the professionalism that Susan brought to her job and the desire to always learn new ways to enhance student learning. Her legacy will be how she inspired students to become self-directed learners and to recognize the importance of being lifelong learners.”

Education was Stuckey’s passion. In 2012, she and husband Jeff established the Team Stuckey Future Educator Scholarship, which awards a $5,000 scholarship to two District 203 senior students who plan to pursue an education degree.

“This scholarship is something that Jeff and I have wanted to do for some time,” said Stuckey during an interview about the award in 2012. “This is a way for us to show our gratitude and give it forward for future years to a school district that is like family to us.”

Through the scholarship, her commitment to education will live on. Highlands parent Kathy Ruiz shared the sentiment.

“When I look around us today, I wonder what our school district would be like if Susan had never been a part of us,” Ruiz said. “So many of us were inspired by her to participate and carry out events and programs that have benefited our students. One couldn’t help but wish to emulate her energy, her vision and her ability to engage the Highlands community.”

Visitation was Tuesday, Jan. 14, at Friedrich-Jones Funeral Home & Cremation Services, 44 S. Mill St., Naperville. Funeral services will be at 4 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 15, at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, 1310 Shepherd Dr. in Naperville.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Team Stuckey Future Educator Scholarship Fund (www.teamstuckey.org ) or The Edward Hospital Cancer Center.

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