COLONIE A social studies teacher who died earlier this month left an impression on his students that went beyond the classroom lessons.
Donald B. Walton, 57, of Ballston Spa, who taught at South Colonie Central High School since 1999, died Sunday, March 9, of brain cancer.
His memorial services were on Friday, March 14, and students chose to honor him and his military past by wearing gray and green clothes that day. Gray represents brain cancer awareness, and the green represented his time in the army. Shortly before coming to work at the school, Walton retired from the Army having reached the rank of major after serving for 23 years.
“He was the kind of guy that was a true military man — very established in routines — but when you got to know him, he was a really warm guy that really wanted his students to do well,” said South Colonie Central High School Principal Dave E. Wetzel. “All his students performed extremely well on the New York state regents exams.”
The students chose to honor Walton because they felt he was a special teacher who pushed them to do their best. Walton taught 10th-grade social studies, but students often stayed in touch with him even after he was no longer their teacher.
“He basically taught me to be the student I am, to be dedicated and passionate and always work hard to achieve your goals,” said senior Maria Sosiak. “I always take that with me beyond the classroom. I always use that for any life lesson.”
Senior Amy Pinkham said Walton pushed her to achieve her goals.
“He showed me how hard you need to work to get what you want and that it pays off if you put your time and energy into it,” said Pinkham.
She recalled a recent discussion with Walton about a South Colonie program called iCARE, which is a character-building program that uses five core values to help guide students in decision-making. One of the many things the program does is put on fundraising events, and they have been doing a lot to raise money and awareness for cancer patients.