05-17-2007, 06:40 PM
Remembering Mike Tylavsky
By Marty O'Brienemail@example.com (O'Brienfirstname.lastname@example.org)
The news of Mike Tylavsky's death is heartbreaking for so many of us associated in one way or another with Tabb High School over the years. During his years as principal - my early years as a sports reporter for the York Town Crier/ Poquoson Post and Suffolk-News Herald - he was as accomodating to me as I could ever imagine a person in his position being.
It tickled me over the years to hear stories of what a strict disciplinarian he was during his early days as an assistant principal and then principal in York County. "Is that the same Mike Tylavsky I know?" I remember asking more than once. No doubt the stories are true, but I'm sure the ex-Marine's heart was always in the right place.
I knew him as a guy who loved high school sports and whose office was filled with photos of Tabb High sports teams. My favorite memory of him is from the fall of 1990 - when I was beginning to dabble in sports writing as a stringer for The Crier. The day before Tabb's football state championship win over Lee County, he climbed up on the gymnasium roof with Tiger assistant coach Joe Molineaux (the III or 16th or whatever numeral Joe is) and led the students in a cheer.
That epitomized his love of Tabb athletics, a love that never wavered during his years there. The late-1980s to about 1997 were golden days for Tabb athletics. I know that many of the Tabb coaches really felt they worked for an adminstrator who understood the sacrifices they made to coach high school sports, and therefore backed them up.
Mike Tylavsky will certainly be missed. If you have any memories of him, feel free to post them.
05-17-2007, 09:12 PM
This article in today's Fayetteville (N.C.) Observer typifies what students always felt about having Mike Tylavsky as their prinicpal. ///Marty O'Brien
Article is below:
Principal's valiant fight unites school, town
By Nomee Landis
ROBBINS — Mayor Laura Brady walked from business to business along Middleton Street on Thursday morning, hanging bows of green and gold on plate-glass windows and the bushy cypress trees that line this small town’s main drag.
Green and gold are the colors of the fighting Mustangs at North Moore High School. Mr. T’s kids.
By 7 that evening, more than 60 people, many of them Mr. T’s students, had crammed into the lobby of the bank building that now serves as Town Hall for a special Board of Commissioners meeting.
The mayor’s voice trembled a bit as she prayed for Mr. T during the invocation. She fought tears as she stood before the crowd with Commissioner Theron Bell to proclaim the following day to be “Michael J. Tylavsky Day in Robbins, North Carolina.”
Belinda Tylavsky, Mr. T’s wife of four years, silently prayed that the mayor would not cry as she read the proclamation, as she presented her with a plaque, as she hugged her, as the crowd stood to clap. There have been so many tears.
Michael Tylavsky has been principal of North Moore High School for five years.
On June 8, 124 of his students will graduate. This year’s seniors are the first class of Mustangs that Mr. T has seen all the way through high school. They voted earlier in the school year to have Mr. T as guest speaker at graduation.
But he will not get to see them in their caps and gowns. Someone else will give that speech.
Mr. T is no ordinary principal. Folks at the school say he is more like a friend.
He knows each of his more than 600 students by name. He calls on them in the hallways, greeting the girls with a handshake and the guys with a firm slap on the back.
He’s lifted weights with the weight-training classes.
He’s let the students in auto shop work on “his baby,” a 1993 limited edition Ford Mustang. A lucky few have been allowed to drive the car around the school parking lot.
He’s been to about every school function and sporting event in the last five years.
Basketball games. Football games. Band performances. At home and away. Chances are, Mr. T has been there to cheer on his kids.
“He came to every one of my volleyball games,” said junior Alisha Bezouska. “He was there for everybody, every day.”
But that — and Mr. T — began to change in March.
His son, 28-year-old Michael J. Tylavsky III, was treated for colon cancer last year. Early this year, the family learned the cancer had spread to his lungs. Surgery was scheduled for March 6. Mr. T drove to Birmingham, Ala., to be at his side. Belinda Tylavsky said the younger Michael Tylavsky is doing well.
After his son was released, Mr. T got in the car to come home. By the time he reached Atlanta, his back hurt so badly he was not sure he could make it.
Belinda Tylavsky said her husband started feeling tired six or seven months ago. He had backaches and other pains that he attributed to aging. He turned 58 in December. He was healthy and fit, a former Marine who toughed things out. He just thought time was starting to catch up with him.
Instead of driving from Atlanta to his home in Whispering Pines that Friday in March, Tylavsky headed straight for Robbins, where his doctor and friend, Lee Bell, sees patients.
Dr. Bell ordered tests for Tuesday. Mr. T had meetings at school Monday.
The tests showed Mr. T had cancer in his lungs, his liver and his spine. He was admitted to the hospital. He called his wife, whom he calls BA, with the news.
“He said, ‘BA, you’ll never hear me say this again, but I’m really scared,’” Belinda said.
Their doctors told him he had about four months to live without chemotherapy and 10 months with the treatment.
He chose the chemo because he wanted to see his wife graduate next year from the University of North Carolina at Pembroke. She is working on her bachelor’s degree in education.
Belinda Tylavsky has been through this before. Cancer killed her mother 20 years ago. “So I knew,” she said.
Mr. T lost his hair over spring break. The chemo made him weak, but he came to school until he just couldn’t.
The students have missed him.
Last month, the students held a Mr. T Day at the school. They wore T-shirts with a green ribbon and “Mr. T” printed on the front. On the back, the words “Semper Fi,” the Marine motto, was written above the school’s mascot, a rearing mustang.
Mr. T’s Marine training stuck with him. He likes things neat, Belinda Tylavsky said. He likes his shirts to hang color coordinated in the closet and the neat lines in the carpet to stay long after the vacuum cleaner creates them.
His students know all about their principal’s three years in the Marines. In the 2005-06 yearbook, an entry about Mr. T says he set a record for push-ups while a Marine: 197.
They will miss him at graduation.
On that day, Ken Sauer, Mr. T’s first assistant principal at North Moore, will come south from his home in New York to deliver the graduation speech. Sauer was there when the graduating seniors were freshmen, and Belinda Tylavsky said he will write a speech Mr. T would be proud of.
Mr. T has already signed each of the seniors’ diplomas.
On Friday, Michael J. Tylavsky Day in Robbins, Mr. T took a turn for the worse, and Belinda Tylavsky called his brother and his children. On Sunday, they were all there with him when he slipped into a coma and the hospice nurse told them it would be a matter of days.
Through it all, Belinda said, the town of Robbins has rallied around Mr. T and her.
Faculty and staff have visited and called. They have brought food.
Students and parents — even grandparents — have sent cards to Mr. T.
Belinda Tylavsky has a paper chain made from hundreds of slips of green and gold construction paper looped together. Each loop contains a handwritten message from a student, a parent, a teacher.
“Mr. T, Thank you for always talking to me at lunch and for the “Donald Duck” voices. Love, Courtney Willett.”
“Hey Mr. T, I’m very sorry that you have to go through this. I just want you to know that I’m praying for you. Love, Eric Powell. P.S. You can beat this. Don’t forget you’re a Mustang. We’re born to fight.”
“Hey Mr. T, I hope you get better because we all miss you at school and I will make sure you will be in my prayers every night. Just to let you know I couldn’t have had a better principal. Janai Thompson.”So many people were concerned about Mr. T that Belinda Tylavsky had to turn off the phone’s ringer last week, when things started getting rough.
Belinda Tylavsky said her husband has always called Robbins his “hidden pearl.”
It appears that Robbins feels the same way about him.
vBulletin® v3.6.10, Copyright ©2000-2013, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.