It is how many students at Manatee School for the Arts referred to Kenneth Ellis.
He taught them world history and Tae Kwon Do.
Taught them about life, too.
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It speaks of their profound respect and heartfelt admiration for this man, this teacher, this role model.
“I owe almost all I am today to Master Ellis,” junior Taylor Lesoine told The Herald.
On Wednesday, those two words were spoken in pained disbelief and with an unfathomable sense of loss.
A loss that shook the MSA family to its core and reverberated around our community.
Ellis, 61, was shot and killed answering the door at his home in North Port late Tuesday night.
Police said two unknown subjects in masks and dark clothes ran from the scene and neighbors said a dark sedan fled the neighborhood.
That this should happen to anyone in the safety of their own home is shocking enough.
That it happened to a man who is beloved and has been described by many as a gentle soul and a great teacher is outrageous.
This is insane.
Who would want to hurt Ken Ellis?
The cretins who committed this abominable act took a good man’s life and broke a school’s heart.
Ellis practically was MSA.
He taught there since the school opened its doors 13 years ago.
He expected his students to strive for excellence, yet he let them know in his own way that he loved them.
They loved him back.
That feeling endures even in former students who still feel his influence on their lives.
There is no greater legacy for an educator.
Which is so sad for those students who have only had Ellis for a brief time.
Tragically brief, it turns out.
“I was in his last period class (Tuesday) and could not believe he was just ... gone,” Cheyanne Nicole Gonzalez wrote to the Herald.
How are young students supposed to countenance that?
This man helped nurture their ideals, their dreams and suddenly he’s ripped from their daily existence by this unspeakable act of violence.
Violence we’ve become inured to in our daily lives.
What a horrible way for innocents to learn how the world can be.
A world Ken Ellis tried to make better in his classroom every day at MSA and in the Tae Kwon Do studio.
A world he hoped his students would make a better place, too.
A better place than the one he left behind.
Master Ellis would expect no less.
Mannix About Manatee, by columnist Vin Mannix, is about people and issues in Manatee County. Please call Vin Mannix at 745-7055, write him at Bradenton Herald, P.O. Box 921, Bradenton, FL 34206 or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include a phone number for verification purposes.