SARASOTA -- A crisis team will assemble at Tillman Elementary Magnet School today to help students deal with the death of a beloved teacher.
Calvin Esaw, 54, who taught art to every student at the school, drowned Monday while on a fishing trip in Sarasota, according to the Sarasota Police Department.
Esaw was wade fishing with family members in the 1400 block of the Ringling Causeway about 1:50 p.m. when they discovered he was under water.
He was brought to shore, where efforts were made to revive him. He was taken to Sarasota Memorial Hospital, where he died, according to police.
Manatee schools were closed Monday for the Presidents Day holiday.
The loss of Esaw is a tremendous blow, said Shirin Gibson, who has been principal of Tillman Elementary for two years.
He was an amazing man, Gibson said. He didnt have his own class. He impacted every single student in the school as our art teacher. Even after meeting with art classes, he wanted to do more. The last 30 minutes of the day was his free time but he would meet with fifth graders in a small math group. He graciously gave of his time in many, many ways.
Esaw had been at Tillman for 20 years so his passing will be a blow not just to students, but also to faculty, said Joe Stokes, director of elementary education for the Manateee County School District.
Its such a community when you are part of a school, Stokes said, speaking of Esaws fellow teachers. You see your peers go through the life cycles you are going through so these events are hurtful. Here was a healthy, able-bodied man when we went home Friday and now he is gone.
Esaw was a district leader in art, specializing in digital art. He fit in perfectly at Tillman, which is a magnet school focusing on graphic art and mass communications, Stokes said.
Today is going to be a rough day, but its not just one day that will be rough, Stokes said. There will be a void.
Stokes believes in letting the children ask questions today.
Its best to answer the questions kids have, Stokes said. We dont know what we will encounter. The kids will have different experiences depending on their development.
The Tillman community will make sure people at the school are taken care of, then focus on Esaws family, Stokes said.
The Herald was not able to reach the family Monday.
Tillman has a student population that is 38 percent African American and Esaw, who was an African American, was looked up to by the students, Gibson said.
He was the most amazing role model for our African American students and for everyone else, Gibson said.
Esaw was married and had children, Gibson said.
Esaws most passionate hobby was fishing, Gibson said.
He filled in the last two Saturdays for one of our other teachers and he was kidding her that it was going to cut into his fishing time, but that he would catch up on his fishing later, Gibson said.
Gibson and her husband were actually driving to The Salty Dog restaurant in Sarasota when they saw emergency vehicles racing toward the area near Mote Marine.
My husband said, Something is terribly wrong, Gibson said. Who would have thought we were so close to the accident?
Esaw has worked for the school district for more than 15 years, Gibson said.
I was always coming up to him with wild ideas and he would always smile and say, Yes, Dr. Gibson, we can do that, Gibson said. Sometimes its vases for flowers for parents or chili bowls. He never said, I cant do that.
Richard Dymond, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-0748-0411, ext. 6686.