Remembering Diane Cassidy: Flagler education student killed in car accident

By Tiffanie Reynolds |

From teaching young kids in Africa to tutoring children of family friends at home, Diane Cassidy was already making plans after graduation next spring.

But an early morning car accident in Jacksonville on Oct. 14 has now dashed them. Cassidy, a 21-year-old Flagler College student, died after a tire blowout caused the accident. A passenger in the car, she was ejected from the car as it hit the center rail and slid to the outside shoulder. She wasn’t wearing a seatbelt at the time, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.

“I can’t help but think of the hundreds of children that Diane would have impacted and touched with her teaching. Lives she would have changed,” said Sally Blake, one of Cassidy’s education professors.

A senior elementary education major, Cassidy was scheduled to graduate in April and had an internship set up at Southwoods Elementary School in Elkton this Spring.

The oldest daughter of nine children, family played a huge role in her inspiration to become a teacher. Cassidy took care of her younger brothers and sisters when her parents went away traveling, and she even included her siblings in her school projects.

“We had our elementary methods in the arts class, and she had to make musical instruments,” said Kelsey Peryam, one of Cassidy’s close friends and roommate. “So she had all the kids help her make musical instruments. They were almost her kids as much as they were her mom’s kids.”

Her family also helped her with other opportunities. Cassidy traveled to Africa with her father three times, and it was during those trips that she got to know the people there. She began to work with the local school, doing arts and crafts and reading to kids. She also got the chance to do a five-week Flagler College study abroad trip to Costa Rica this past summer.

Despite the young lives she could have touched, Cassidy has left a mark on Flagler College campus, becoming an inspiration to many of her peers who will graduate this year.

“I’m going to finish my degree, and I think the whole Education Department, we’re going to finish our degrees for her,” said Peryam. “And we’re going to go out and change lives in her memory. That’s how she would have wanted it.”

There will be a remembrance ceremony for Cassidy on Friday at 9:30 a.m. in Ponce Hall’s Palm Garden across the street from the Ringhaver Student Center.

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