Remembering Ertha Giroux-Boney, beloved ETHS staff member

Video credit: William Jenkins

Courtesy of Jasmin Hislop

Courtesy of Jasmin Hislop

Ertha Giroux-Boney, an ETHS staff member and staple of the Special Education Department, died on August 7, 2020. Giroux-Boney was a paraprofessional in the Special Education Department since December 2000. Recently, she also served as the Positive Opportunities for Development (POD) Coordinator.

According to Jasmin Hislop, Giroux-Boney’s sister and staff member of the IIT Department, “To [Giroux-Boney] coworkers and larger ETHS family, I want you to know that she died wearing a Wildkit shirt.  She truly loved her job with a passion and with the Wildkit spirit.”

Recipient of the 2017-18 Guillebeaux-Arceneaux Spirit Award, Giroux-Boney was “described as a ‘beacon of light’ for ETHS students, Giroux-Boney was praised for her collaboration with the ETHS social work team and helping provide a welcoming space with humor and a positive attitude.”

Superintendent Eric Witherspoon released the following statement to the ETHS community on Aug. 9: “The Evanston Township High School community is deeply saddened that one of our ETHS staff members, Ertha Giroux-Boney, died on August 7, 2020. Ms. Giroux-Boney was a paraprofessional in the Special Education Department since December 2000. Her sister, Jasmin Hislop, works in the Instructional and Informational Technology (IIT) Department.” Witherspoon offered the following closing statement: “We extend our heartfelt sympathy to the Giroux-Boney family. Condolence cards may be sent to ETHS, Attention: Special Education Office, 1600 Dodge Ave., Evanston, IL 60201.”

Her colleagues shared their thoughts on the impact that Boney had on the lives of everyone with whom she came into contact.

“I want to first start off extending my deepest condolences to the family. I worked with Ms. Boney in the beginning of my career at Evanston, and she is a blessing to everyone that she worked with – both students and staff. She touched so many lives working in the Pod, and she was able to really make her trademark in the Pod. One of the things that I’ll always remember about Ms. Boney and will continue to have her legacy in my mind is her ability to demonstrate tough love. She was able to nurture and care for students, but at the same time, continue to push them to be as independent as possible. I love Ms. Boney. I hope that she rests in power and blessings to your family,” special education teacher Claire Getzhoff said.

“When I think of Ms. Boney, I think about chocolate. And the reason is, during my time in the Pod, it would always be lunchtime, and after she ate her delicious lunch, she would always want something sweet, but she would never have anything. But luckily, I would always bring a little bit of chocolate with me to the Pod. And so we would just sit there for a minute or two, just enjoying each other’s company and eating chocolate, and it was always one of my most favorite moments of the day. That’s what I think of when I think of her,” special education teacher Stephanie Linton said.

“When I think of Ms. Boney, I think of a champion for kids.”

– Lesley Roberts, Chair of Special Education Department

“When I think about Ms. Boney, I think of life, I think of love. I think of vibrant colors, hair colors, depending on the mood. I think of wonderful, pungent-smelling curry and spices, simmering at lunchtime because Ms. Boney did not play about her food. I think about the way in which I need to be purposeful in my teaching. Ms. Boney had a passion for education. She appreciated her mother being a child growing up in the educational system. She valued it, and she wanted to make sure that each student valued it and was accountable for what they were producing.

Ms. Boney is somewhat of a Sour Patch Kid. She was very, very salty on the outside, as in no filter; she held nothing back and told you the honest truth, no matter if it hurt or not. The truth was the truth. And she told it to you because of the love that she had. She had a genuine love and passion for everyone. She saw good in everything, and, with that, I just hope that I can continue her legacy and continue fueling and feeding love to each and every individual, especially the students that needed the most.

Courtesy of Jasmine Hislop

Ms. Boney, thank you so much for not only gracing me with your presence but also showing me how to be a better teacher, a better woman, and a better mother. Thank you so much for the conversations that we’ve had. Thank you so much for the time we spent. I know I have an open tab left. You did so much for me, so I always told you to put it on my tab. And believe me, I plan on paying that tip.

Thank you so much, Ms. Boney, for everything you’ve done. Blessings, blessings, blessings to the family. You will never be forgotten. Your legacy will always live on forever,” special education teacher Michelle Lyle said.

“I worked with Ms. Boney since she was a one-to-one aid with a student who I had for four years. So Ms. Boney and I worked together closely with that student for four years. She and I would crack up over different things.

We still remember that, and then she became the queen of the Pod, and I never minded having a duty there, because she would know that I was coming in, so she’d put on music that she would know I’d like. It could be steel drum music or Stevie Wonder, and we would rock out together. Just laughing. I’m going to miss her so much. And I know I’m not the only one. I know all my students will. It’s just it won’t ever be the same. She brought so much joy and light to my life. I’m just going to miss her so much,” special education teacher Liz O’Toole said.

“In the hallway, you would come behind me. You would walk through the West Wing and come through, and you would come and start on me. So I will always remember that. Your lovely hair is a different color every week. I love that about you. It’s spunky. And then we had breakfast one day, so I think we were testing and we didn’t have anything early. So we came in, we checked in and we were able to run to McDonald’s to have breakfast. I will cherish those moments. There are no words besides that I will miss you dearly. I will keep your words in my head, the way you talk in my head. You were kind of chill, relaxed; I will always remember that.

So, my friend, until next time, rest in peace and rest in heaven, but again, my friend, until we meet again. We’ll be by the beach, maybe having a drink and some good food in the Caribbean,” special education paraprofessional Marie-Edmonde Parisien said.

“When I think of Ms. Boney, I think of the heart of our department. She was a tremendous woman, and I know that the staff of ETHS and the students are going to miss her terribly. She’s just someone who really held it all together, especially in the Pod. I always loved checking in with her whenever I had my duty, and she can always put a smile on everyone’s face no matter what kind of day you’re having, whether the jokes that she was cracking or just the stories that she would tell, you know, of different kinds of music, you’d be listening into the Pod. When I think of Miss Boney, I think of so many happy memories, and I only knew her for a short time, but she has made such an impact on me in that short time. I can’t imagine the impact that she’s made on so many people throughout her life. She truly is a wonderful woman and will be missed by so many people. We love you so much, Ms. Boney,” special education teacher Jennifer Pawelski said.

Courtesy of Jasmin Hislop

“ETHS has really lost a loving member of its community. Ms. Boney will be so missed by fellow teachers, fellow staff, friends, family, and the students, the students that she held lovingly accountable that came every day just to say hi and check in with Mama Boney, or Ms. Boney-ney as they called her. I, for one, will definitely miss our bi-weekly talks on local politics and just really digging in on Chicago politics. That was one of my favorite things to discuss and go back and forth with Ms. Boney on. She will definitely be missed,” special education teacher Cecilia Rice said.

“When I think of Ms. Boney, I think of a champion for kids. Rest in peace, Ms. Boney. Your legacy is secure,” Chair of Special Education Department Lesley Roberts said.

“When I think of Ms. Boney, the first thing that comes to mind was her big, beautiful smile. And it wasn’t just that it was such a warming smile, but you knew the love that was behind it and the genuine care. It would always brighten my day when I saw her in the hallway. You knew just by looking at her that she cared so much for everyone that she came in contact with. We’ll miss you, Ms. Boney,” special education teacher Liz Schroeder said.

Social Work Team Tribute video by Megan Goodell