Family and former students of Lynne Pack-Holland, a Bladensburg High School cosmetology teacher who died of cancer in 2010, remembered her as someone who had a strong impact on their lives.
“She taught you to be helpful,” said former student Imanni Augustin, 22, who graduated in 2008. “To reach out and see if your fellow students needed help, whether if it was in the class or outside. She was so giving.”
More than 70 family members, friends, former students and colleagues gathered Thursday at the high school for a classroom dedication in Pack-Holland’s honor. Pack-Holland worked at the school from 1995 to 2010, and died of multiple myeloma, a type of blood cancer.
“It so important to honor educators,” said B. Aisha Mahoney, the school’s principal. “Unfortunately, we could not honor her while she was alive, but really we want to keep her legacy going. She has left a lasting memory that will go on.”
The event, held in the school’s media center, included a ceremonial march by ROTC students, music played by the school band and songs performed by the school choir to honor Pack-Holland. Pack-Holland’s three children and ex-husband were in attendance. Some family members wept as they gave speeches in her honor.
“Her impact went beyond cosmetology, it went beyond the science of hair,” said Kacey Holland, 26, one of Pack-Holland’s children. “It was about professionalism, life skills, the ability to be independent and a viable worker in society.”
School officials, who organized the event along with friends of Pack-Holland, will place a plaque inside the cosmetology classroom, on the fifth floor of the school, dedicating the room to Pack-Holland and honoring the work she did for the school. The cosmetology program is a two-year program at the school in which students learn the business, theory and practical skills it takes to become a cosmetologist. At the end of the program, students can receive a license from the Maryland Board of Cosmetologists.
Holland, 26, said her mother assisted many students living in difficult situations by providing clothes, and rides to internships and jobs.
“She took a lot of these students on as her own children, way past the roles and responsibilities of what a cosmetology teacher was supposed to do,” Holland said.
Charles Payne, who graduated from the school in 1999, was in Pack-Holland’s program and said she gave him a job in her Lanham salon, Contours, when he was a junior at the school. Payne said Pack-Holland helped him realize he needed to start acting and dressing in a professional manner.
“She instilled in me that when you do something, do your best at it, and look your best when you are doing it,” Payne, 32, said, adding that Pack-Holland was always there for him when he needed her, even after high school.