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Hundreds gather at vigil for slain Shaker teacher Aisha Fraser

November 20, 2018

Hundreds gather at vigil for slain Shaker teacher Aisha Fraser

SHAKER HEIGHTS, Ohio -- A community came together in candlelight Monday evening to celebrate the life and mourn the tragic loss of a beloved teacher struck down over the weekend in a senseless act of violence.

Hundreds gathered on the lawn of Woodbury Elementary School for a touching tribute to Aisha M. Fraser, the teacher whose life was cut short two days before at the Shaker home of her estranged husband, former judge Lance Mason, who is in custody and facing multiple charges.

The remembrance vigil also signified a call for the community to carry her light forward.

“She was such a bridge builder -- she poured her heart out into her life,” noted her pastor, Chip Freed from Garfield Memorial Church, adding that the tragedy “leaves us with many questions over the sacrifice of this great soul.”

Her death has also left two young daughters, Audrey and Ava, without a mother.

“As (Shaker Heights Teachers’ Association President) John Morris said earlier, we need to be here as a community forever and ever to help and support her daughters,” said fellow Woodbury teacher and sorority sister LauraAnn Moore.

Another friend and member of her sixth-grade teaching team, Christine Farren, recalled the aphorisms that Fraser used on the job and off.

But what stuck most vividly with Farren at this point was last Friday, when “Upper Sixth-grade East” had just dismissed 150 students who were ready for Thanksgiving break.

“Aisha had just returned from bus duty and just exclaimed ‘Ziggety-boo!’ This was followed with a significant laugh,” Farren said. “And I little knew that those were going to be the last words she ever said to me.”

Attending Shaker schools since kindergarten, Fraser was also remembered by members of her Class of ’91, including fellow Woodbury teacher Beth Portner and Monroe Jackson.

“She was truly a Shakerite with all her heart,” Johnson said, recalling her days as a cheerleader and a member of the orchestra.

Now a pastor at Christian Kingdom Assembly, Johnson also urged the community to take a stand against domestic violence, to work to “never allow this to happen again.”

The vigil also included some of Fraser’s favorite music, much of it sung by the Shaker Heights High School choir, opening with “Amazing Grace” and closing with “The Lord Bless You and Keep You.”

Fraser’s favorite song, “His Eye Is On The Sparrow,” by Lauryn Hill, was also played, with a Woodbury student reading the poem “When Great Trees Fall,” by Maya Angelou, as well.

Interim Shaker School Superintendent Stephen Wilkins remembered “her words of support and love for her students,” adding that he hopes the community “wraps and holds close your lovely daughters.”

Woodbury Principal Danny Young recalled Fraser as “kind, loving, compassionate, dedicated and an amazing mother -- with a wonderful sense of humor,” adding that “we have lost an angel, as well as a phenomenal educator.”

Even an inspirational speaker got choked up as he took it all in, that being her uncle, George Fraser, who thanked the crowd for the show of love and solidarity, calling his niece “love personified.”

Standing at the school entrance bedecked with a her photo and the words “Forever In Our Hearts,” Fraser also noted that her “two beautiful daughters have been traumatized by life.”

With that in mind, the SHTA has set up a GoFundMe account for them. On Monday, Morris told everyone to take Fraser’s spirit with them along the lit sidewalks and keep it alive for others.

“Aisha’s light is now shining on another shore,” Freed said. “As for the rest of us, we can either curse the darkness, or we can light candles.”

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