Dennis and Linda Pawlecki always taught their daughter, Susan Jarrell, to pay it forward.
This week, they understood that she had taken that lesson, learned greatly from it, and then instilled it in her students at .
Jarrell, a beloved French teacher at Stoney Creek and at in Rochester, died Jan. 10. Police say her ex-husband, .
Susan Jarrell was 45 and a resident of Bloomfield Township; she had three children: Caroline, Ellyn and Nick.
On Tuesday afternoon, the Stoney Creek community, led by Principal Larry Goralski, presented a check for $18,000 to the Pawleckis; that check will help provide for the education and care for their grandchildren, they said.
The money has been raised in increments since January. From penny wars and bracelet sales to bowling and a battle of the bands, student groups have directed all of their fundraising efforts to helping the family their teacher left behind.
"She was only here a couple years but left an incredible impression on us," Goralski told the Pawleckis. He said the school community has shown "incredible character through unthinkable tragedy and adversity."
After thanking Goralski and the staff, the Pawleckis gathered with a small group of students and teachers to hear stories of how the teacher they called Madame Jarrell had influenced and inspired them.
Linda Pawlecki told the students that when her daughter was in high school, she was president of her high school's student council and was always a leader.
"Susan was noted for extra effort in all that she did," Dennis Pawlecki said. "Your extra effort here is going to benefit our children. And we sincerely appreciate that. The children will appreciate it.
"You're paying forward what you're doing. We always taught her that. We try to do that."
Teachers at the school wore T-shirts that were created in honor of Jarrell; the shirts were inscribed with this French question: "Pourquoi tu gaches ta vie?"
Linda Pawlecki asked what the expression meant, and the students told her it was a line from one of Jarrell's favorite songs that meant: "Why do you waste your life?" The song, they said, was about making every moment of your life count.
"She loved all of you guys, and she told her children all the time that she had the best students," Linda Pawlecki said.
To contribute to the fund for the Jarrell children, send donations to: Health, Welfare and Education of the Jarrell Children Fund; 2600 Crooks Rd.; Troy, MI 48084.