Steve Birdsall, beloved Maple Hills Elementary School teacher, dies

February 22, 2011

By Laura Geggel

Maple Hills Elementary School teacher Steve Birdsall, known for his Hawaiian shirts and hiking, died Feb. 18 after an illness. He was 52.

“In his 23 years in the Issaquah School District, Mr. Birdsall touched the lives of countless students, parents and staff members,” Maple Hills Principal Monique Beane wrote in an e-mail to parents the day he died.

Steve Birdsall, Maple Hills Elementary fifth-grade teacher, in June 2010 prepared for medical leave after a 23-year career in the Issaquah School District — 22 of those years spent at Maple Hills. By Greg Farrar

Birdsall took a medical leave in 2010 after the disease he and his doctors were fighting — multiple system atrophy — took its toll on his body.

Multiple system atrophy is a rare condition with symptoms similar to Parkinson’s disease, according to the National Institutes of Health. MSA patients have widespread damage to a part of the nervous system that controls important functions, including heart rate, blood pressure and sweating.

In an interview with The Issaquah Press in June, Birdsall said he participated in clinical studies for the disease in hopes that a better treatment would be available to future MSA patients.

Beane recalled how Birdsall introduced himself and continued working despite his illness when she started working at Maple Hills in 2007.

“He was good to me, as a first year principal,” she said. “He was honest. He would send me e-mails if I made a good decision and send me e-mails if he thought I needed to think about something. He helped me grow as a professional.”

Birdsall was married to Polly Vaughn and had two teenage children, Madison and Kellen Birdsall.

Laura Geggel: 392-6434, ext. 241, or lgeggel@isspress.com. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.

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