Students grieve after beloved teacher dies in scooter accident | News
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Former students of a high school teacher remember his profound impact on their lives.
"Mr. Belyea was the first teacher," explained Troy Looper, "One of the only teachers, to ever make me feel smart."
"I'm going to miss him a lot," said Josh Luke.
James Belyea, 28, died Tuesday after a scooter accident Aug. 23.
He was a teacher at Sandalwood High School.
"It hit me pretty hard," Luke said. "I was crying nonstop."
Luke was a current student of Belyea's; his second year with the UNF graduate.
"His motto was practice does not make perfect. Practice makes permanent," Luke said.
Sandalwood graduate Troy Looper said he struggled with school, especially math, until he landed in Mr. Belyea's class.
He says Belyea expected more of him, and he rose to the challenge.
"He helped me realize that I can do well, that I can do better," Looper said. "From then on out, I got nothing but straight As in school."
Hundreds of friends and students shared memories of Belyea on a Facebook group, calling Belyea "remarkable" and "a great teacher and a great man."
Former student Elvir Botic said in a sea of good teachers, Belyea was more.
"Like a second dad to you, that's how I saw him," Botic said. "He would always help me no matter what. Like even if it wasn't math, he would help me with like colleges and stuff."
"He did a lot of good while he was here on this earth even in his short time," Looper said. "I just wish that I had been able to have a chance to tell him what a difference he made for me."
The students hope his family and those who knew him find comfort knowing the impact he had on so many young lives.
Friends organized a benefit for James' medical and funeral costs.
On September 11th, a portion of meal costs at the Regency Chick-Fil-A will be donated -- if customers mention they are supporting James Belyea.
There will also be a silent auction and fundraising bracelets for sale from 7-9 p.m. at the Regency Chick-Fil-A.