Beloved Asbury teacher’s passing shocks community

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When Tiffany Escalante was growing up with two sisters and a brother, she mothered them and looked after their needs.

“She’s the oldest of the four of us. She was a mother to us,” said her grieving sister, Stephanie Texidor.

The 31-year-old Salisbury teacher, known for her perpetual smile and good-natured personality, died suddenly Thursday, just days after teaching her last class, shocking her family and deeply saddening a community that admired her.

“We grew up without our parents. Our grandmother and grandfather raised us. She was so good-hearted. She would give you the shirt off her back if she could. She would do anything for anybody,” her sister said.

Escalante and her husband, Oscar, had two children, 5-year-old Sophia and 8-year-old Jose.

“Oscar, he’s really a fighter. He’s strong. They both balanced out each other. He has a lot of her attributes. He is doing a wonderful job with the kids,” Texidor said.

A pre-school teacher at Asbury Child Development Center, Escalante was loved by the 2-year-olds in her class.

“They asked where Mrs. Escalante was, because she was here (last) Monday, then she was absent Wednesday. We told them Mrs. Escalante is in Heaven now,” said Casey Taylor, director of the Camden Avenue center, where Escalante was known for her high energy and fondness for the little ones.

“She loved her class and she really had an impact on her class as well. She left marks in our hallways with all of her creative drawings that the 2-year-olds did,” Taylor said.

“She was here about a year. She was a delight to have as a teacher. It’s heartbreaking,” said Taylor, adding Escalante also taught Sunday school at Emmanuel Wesleyan Church and was active in the community.

At Wicomico Day School, she taught Spanish and made a positive impression on 10-year-old student Jake Gordy.

“She had our kids learning Spanish by leaps and bounds and she did it in a fun and encouraging manner,” Gordy’s mother, Tracey Greene Gordy, posted on Facebook after learning of Escalante’s death.

“When we went to Florida in February, Jake had a conversation with a child in Disney in Spanish. He was so excited to get back and tell Mrs. Escalante,” she said.

Amy Foltz, who worked with her at the church, called Escalante “the most selfless human being on Earth.”

“Nobody else was more selfless than her. She had a huge heart,” she said.

Foltz organized an on-line fund drive to help the family pay funeral and medical expenses. Meantime, family, friends and even strangers who learned of her death, have donated money, items, gift cards and volunteered to make meals for Escalante’s family.

The goal for the fund drive, at Give Send Go, is $20,000, and within days the amount had reached more than $17,000 Foltz said.

There will be fund raisers for college tuition for the children.

“The outpouring has been crazy … a lot of people are willing to help,” Foltz said.

Texidor said a month ago, she and her sister’s nephews lost their father and Tiffany “was a big part of their healing.”

“She taught them to have strong faith. You can’t question. Instead, you say, ‘Thank you, God, for Tiffany. Thank you for her life,’” she said.

“She never held ill will toward people. It didn’t matter if somebody treated her bad, she didn’t have ill will,” her sister said.

“It was because of her faith. She was very big in the church and she had a great faith.”

Reach Susan Canfora at scanfora@newszap.com.

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