Kaneland students, staff mourn loss of beloved gym teacher
Kaneland District 302 students and teachers are mourning the death of teacher Lorrie Luckinbill-Hamblen.
Luckinbill-Hamblen, a physical education teacher at Kaneland Harter Middle School in Sugar Grove, died March 19 as a result of a pulmonary embolism, according to her obituary on Legacy.com. She was 46.
"She was definitely a team player. Not just in sports, but in life," said Shelley Hueber, principal of Kaneland John Shields Elementary School in Sugar Grove, where Hamblen taught full time for 15 years. Hamblen transferred to the middle school this year because it needed a female P.E. teacher, Hueber said.
Luckinbill-Hamblen started her career in Kaneland as a substitute, often filling in for Hueber, who was a P.E. teacher and assistant principal at the time.
"She was very, very student-centered," Hueber said. Elementary-school gym class involves teaching kids to persevere and to be part of a team, Hueber said. "She tried to make sure it was fun, but they were learning while having fun."
About the only thing she didn't want to teach was dance, Hueber recalled with a laugh.
One of Luckinbill-Hamblen's favorites was a golf unit, developed by the Kids Golf Foundation. It would be taught at school to all students, then select students would take a field trip to play at the exclusive Rich Harvest Farms Country Club, whose owner co-founded the KGF.
She would emcee the Shields' annual end-of-year student awards ceremony. And she offered herself up as a prize -- willing to take a pie in the face -- for the student who raised the most money in the annual "Jump Rope for Heart" fundraiser for the American Heart Association, Hueber said.
Luckinbill-Hamblen was a building representative for the Kaneland Education Association, including serving on its negotiations team, and served on a regional team for the Illinois Education Association. She also taught after-school sports at Shields for the Sugar Grove Park District.
Many teachers in the district wore Chicago Cubs shirts to work Wednesday, in honor of Luckinbill-Hamblen, who was an avid Cubs fan. Superintendent Todd Leden expressed condolences to the family on behalf of the district. Hueber said there is talk of establishing a student scholarship in her name.
A wake will be conducted from 4 to 8 p.m. Friday at Dieterle Funeral Home, 1120 S. Broadway Road in Montgomery. A funeral service is at noon Saturday at the funeral home.
Survivors include her parents, her two sons, two brothers, her grandmother and her grandson.
Memorial gifts may be made to a GoFundMe account, "Seize the Day With Noah," for her grandson, who has a rare genetic disorder that causes seizures and developmental regression. Gifts may also be made to the Lorrie Luckinbill-Hamblen Children's Education Fund. An address has not been given for that fund.