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Antonio P. Silva, 47, taught special education at city middle school


Antonio P. Silva, a Booker T. Washington Middle School special-education teacher whose brother said he simply did "whatever it takes" to help pupils died Sunday of diabetes at Good Samaritan Hospital. He was 47.

Known to friends as "Nicky," the Northwood resident was active with the Northwood Football League and participated in the Woodlawn Football league for many years. He had many duties for the Northwood league, including transporting players to and from practices and games in his van.

"He always had a whole van full of kids," said his brother, Ricardo R. Silva of Baltimore. "But he didn't mind. He'd fix the fields, whatever. Anything for the kids."

Mr. Silva started teaching at Booker T. Washington Middle School in 1992, working mostly with pupils who had emotional or educational handicaps. Colleagues called him a unique instructor who enjoyed teaching.

He last worked at the school Jan. 13.

"He had the unique ability to relate to problems and issues that are apparent in children's lives," said Assistant Principal Federico R. Adams. "He wanted the kids that you knew were going to be the hardest to work with."

Co-workers said Mr. Silva had a genuine concern about each youngster, calling or going to the homes of pupils who missed classes. He stayed in contact with former pupils.

Many pupils at the school are from low-income households, and Mr. Silva tried to address their problems that didn't always deal directly with school, colleagues said.

For instance, if a child needed clothes, he brought in a box of clothing the next day. And he tried to make sure that each youngster had Christmas gifts.

"He loved working with and helping the disadvantaged children at Booker T.," his brother said. "He loved giving his understanding to their situation. He liked giving guidance to children about life in general. He'd do whatever it takes for the kids."

His main asset as a teacher was getting to know the children in such a way that they trusted him.

"He wanted the kids who needed the most love," Mr. Adams said. "He had the real unique ability to take the events from his life and relate them to their lives."

A Baltimore native, Mr. Silva graduated from Frederick Douglass High School in 1969 and received a bachelor's degree in criminal justice from Coppin State College in the early 1990s.

He served in the Army until the mid-1970s and, after his discharge, worked as a detective for Giant Food until he began teaching at Booker T. Washington.

Principal Ruth N. Bukatman said counselors assisted some pupils with their grief this week.

"The kids are still trying to cope," Mr. Adams said. "Many just think he's out sick and don't believe what happened."

Mr. Silva was an avid sports fan and enjoyed watching old, classic movies. He was a longtime member of Falls Road African Methodist Episcopal Church.

Services were held yesterday.

In addition to his brother, Mr. Silva is survived by his wife, Josephine Miles, whom he married in 1995; four sons, Antonio Silva, Roberto Silva, Fernando Silva and Michael Miles; his mother, Mary D. Silva; another brother, Mica Y. Silva; and two sisters, Vicki M. Colson and Chenata Nowlin. All are of Baltimore.

Pub Date: 1/22/99

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