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Stephen Joseph Manning, 52, a special education teacher at Northern High School and softball coach, died unexpectedly Sept. 19 at Georgetown University Hospital in Washington, D.C., and this week, the community reflected on his legacy at the school.

“Mr. Manning served Northern High School for over a decade as a teacher and he served Northern High School as a coach,” Kevin Howard, principal of Northern High School, said. “Our thoughts and prayers are with him and his family and with the Northern High School community.”

Out of respect for Manning’s family, Howard did not offer any further comments.

“We are focusing on our students and staff during this difficult time,” Howard said.

For many of Manning’s coworkers, friends and students, he was described as “no truer friend,” according to his obituary.

Sarah Ann James, a former student of Manning’s, played softball for Northern during her freshman and sophomore years. Known affectionately as “Coach,” Manning helped James grow as a person and as a player, she said.

“[Manning] was the type of coach who made sure every person played every single game and never had favorites,” James said. “[He] was an amazing person and touched every person he encountered. … I will miss him dearly, but will remember the lessons he taught me and the memories I made those two years that I will never forget.”

“Steve Manning was the man who was full of life, ready to teach and had a love for all,” said Katina Jones, who worked with Manning as an instructional assistant at Northern High School.

Now at Calvert Country School, Jones, whom Manning called “Jonesy,” said she was “blessed” to have been part of Manning’s “circle” for the past four years.

“He was a big guy with a huge heart for not just his family and friends, but for his students and his ability to teach students that others would have given up on,” Jones wrote in an email. “For his students, he would go to no end to help them to understand his concepts of math, study for tests and have great incentives of extra study/learning time during his own lunch period. For me, he was always that guy that could put a smile on your face even if he was having a not so good day.”

In the email, Jones told a story of a group of Manning’s students who did not do well on a particular test. Manning decided to treat the students to ice cream while they studied. On the next test, all students passed.

“As I visited him in the hospital a few days after his stroke, I was relaying some of the updates in the school,” Jones said in the email. “As I talked and rubbed his arm, his head moved ever so slightly. The nurses said it was just a reflex, I believe he was letting me know it was OK.”

Jones and a group of staff from Northern High will host a memorial titled “A Celebration of Life,” open to all who wish to honor Manning, on Oct. 5 at Carpenter’s Beach in Huntingtown.

“We are planning to gather, share stories/memories of Steve, and release flowers into the bay in honor of his memory,” Jones wrote.

A light breakfast of bagels, doughnuts and juice — Manning’s favorites — will be served, she said.

To RSVP or contribute to the memorial, contact Jones at katinajn@aol.com.

snewman@somdnews.com