BBA mourns death of teacher, alumnus

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MANCHESTER — Burr and Burton Academy is dealing with the sudden death of a young faculty member.

Administrators learned Monday morning that science teacher Ian Pollock, 33, had been found dead in his car, headmaster Mark Tashjian said. A cause of death has not been determined, Tashjian said.

Tashjian broke the news to students and faculty in an all-school assembly held late Monday morning, and it was an emotional moment for the entire community. Email went out to parents and guardians, as did a phone message, alerting them to the news.

The school is providing counseling to students and teachers and asking community members to look out for each other, Tashjian said.

"He had a warmth that drove people to him," Tashjian said Tuesday of Pollock, a 2004 graduate of BBA. "He was a warm, funny, likable guy. ... I've heard from a lot of students that they appreciated him, and he demonstrated to them that he really cared about them."

Pollock's passing hit the school hard, not only for students who regarded him as a mentor but for faculty who had taught him as a student. His extended family has deep roots at the school, as his his mother, Lani Lovisa, is the student life and service coordinator, his sister Olivia was an intern at the school's Mountain Campus last spring, and his brother in law, Jaime Torre, taught math at BBA last year.

"What I said to the kids is that circumstances [of Pollock's death] don't matter. What matters is that he's gone and that his family's grieving and we have a community that is grieving," Tashjian said.

The decision was made to inform students all at once so that everyone heard the news at the same time, and could begin the grief process together, Tashjian said.

"I do know that community matters. It matters when we celebrate state championships and it really matters when we have a community in pain and in need," he said.

"I told them joy shared is doubled and pain shared over time is halved. And that it's really important, as we mourn and go through this process, that we look to each other and we look out for each other.

"If you're somebody who's in pain, share that pain. we know that makes it better. And if you're somebody who can be a support, be a support. Talk to each other, talk to us," he said.

Cory Herrington, BBA's dean of students, coached Pollock as part of the 2004 boys' hockey team that won the Division 2 championship, the first title in program history. He said the qualities that made Pollock a good teammate served him well as an educator.

On the ice, "[Pollock] was a real catalyst to that team's run. That was a special team," Herrington remembered, looking at a team photo on his office wall. "He gave me everything he had, every shift. ... I don't think I've coached a kid that has as much grit. In practice and in games he just loved to compete."

"He was a wonderful teammate who was able to connect with everyone and that's what made him a wonderful emerging teacher — this ability to connect with people," Herrington said. "So many of our students respected him and really loved the way he could connect with them, encourage them to find success in the classroom and serve as a mentor outside the classroom."

Pollock was an avid fisherman and was the co-founder and director of the Block Island Fishing Academy in Rhode Island, where he worked during the summer.

According to the fishing academy's website, he was a graduate of Skidmore College with a degree in neuroscience and a concentration in early childhood development.

He leaves behind two brothers, Wes and Trevor, and a sister, Olivia, as well as his parents, Tashjian said.


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