Middlebury community remembers Northridge middle school staffer

MIDDLEBURY, Ind.-- A Northridge Middle School staffer died by suicide last week, and Thursday night, some Middlebury community members came together to stand in solidarity.

A little more than a dozen people came out to remember a man who loved the students he worked with, who loved music, poetry, dungeons and drag ons, and his church.

But he was hurting, and his death shocked this small town.  

Now, community members say he was bullied, and are calling for that kind of environment at Middlebury Community Schools to come to an end.

“He matters,” said friend and former colleague, Sonny Correno. “He matters to me, he matters to a lot of people. And, wherever he is, he needs to know that we love him.”

Correno describes his friend as jovial and larger-than-life.

“He was a real gentle giant, he was just a sweetheart of a man. And very, very kind,” he said. “So for something like this, it’s just beyond belief.”

To all the people who knew and loved him, his death by suicide last week in the parking lot of Northridge Middle School came as a shock.  

“I couldn’t believe it, there had to have been another John Homan, is what I thought,” said friend and former colleague, Devin Tacy. “It was shocking. I was very surprised.”

Homan worked as a paraprofessional at the middle school, and in an email sent out before his death, alleged he was being mistreated by colleagues.  

“Everybody just needs to chill out,” Tacy said. “Life is already hard enough and people don’t need to make it harder for everybody else, it’s ridiculous. It’s got to start somewhere.”

Friends of Homan and other community members gathered at a vigil Thursday, calling for an end to bullying.

“I figure, bringing people together and getting people talking is always the best way to handle situations like these,” said Nicole Sharp, who organized the vigil.  

It was an evening of conversation, contemplation and a call for kindness.  

“Letting people who might feel hopeless or helpless or in a spot where they just need emotional, mental help. Knowing that your community is there for you and knowing where you can get support from is a really big deal to me.”  

If you or anyone you know is suffering from any kind of suicidal ideation, please know that help is out there.  You can call 988 for the Suicide Prevention Hotline, or text “HOME” to 741741 for a crisis text line.

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