‘HE'S WITH ALL OF US’: Vigil Held for Beloved 3rd Grade Teacher Parmatma Khalsa

“He just cared so much about all the children,” Fuller said.

SOUTH HADLEY — Hundreds gathered outside Mosier Elementary School on Tuesday for a candlelight vigil in memory of third-grade teacher Parmatma S. Khalsa.

Khalsa, 44, taught at Mosier for four years and was known for his ability to understand his students and foster a love of learning. The Leverett resident died in a two-car crash in South Hadley on Thursday morning, which remains under investigation.

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Among those gathered outside of Khalsa’s classroom were family members, students and their parents, and other members of the community. Attendees held candles, wore pins with ribbons on them, and released peace lanterns into the sky.

Khalsa’s wife, Jai Fuller, addressed the crowd that had gathered, telling mourners that she felt “like I’m meeting Mr. Khalsa’s other family.”

Becoming a teacher was deeply fulfilling to her husband, she said, and changed him as a person. 

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“He just cared so much about all the children,” Fuller said.

Khalsa was strongly guided by his Sikh faith, Fuller said, adding that their tradition holds that the soul lives on while “the body is just like a house for the spirit, for the soul.” 

“I think he wants all of you to know that he’s OK … He’s with me, he’s with all of us,” she said.

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Khalsa knew for a long time that he wanted to be a third grade teacher, said his mother, Rose, but for a time, he didn’t think he could do it and worked as a landscaper instead. When he later became very sick and almost died, Rose said that her son realized it was time to pursue his calling.

“It was during that time that he said that he had to be a third grade teacher,” Rose said, recalling that her son considered it “his mission” and “why I’m here on Earth.”

“So he did,” she continued. “All the doors opened to him, and before you know it, he was here.”

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Rose also assured students and others who knew and loved Khalsa that he will remain in their lives in spirit. 

“I want to tell all the students and all the people who are going to miss him, he is everywhere,” she said. “He is all around you. He isn’t gone — he just isn’t here in a body.”

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In addition to telling his students that they are loved, Rose said that her son also “wanted to say your souls are so beautiful, and living your life is all about love and joy.”

Community members have come together to support Khalsa’s family and students, launching efforts such as a “Stuffiez” donation drive that collected 440 stuffed animals to distribute to all students at Mosier, 80 stuffied animals for teachers and staff, and $1,925 in cash donations. Students were greeted by the stuffed animals as a surprise at lunch Tuesday.

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memorial fund to benefit Khalsa's wife and children raised over $45,000 as of Tuesday evening; and another fundraiser to redecorate the classroom has raised almost $2,800. 

Jacquelyn Voghel can be reached at [email protected].

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