Monday, January 25, 2016

Before You Can't.

Something sad happened. Let me tell you. Mary Beth Blegen died. You probably don't know who Mary Beth Blegen is. Let me tell you. She taught American Literature and English at Worthington High School for 30 years. In 1995, she won Minnesota Teacher of the Year. In 1996, she won National Teacher of the Year and was presented with the award by President Bill Clinton. She then worked for the Department of Education in Washington D.C. before making her last stop in her educational career in St. Paul, MN as an educational consultant. Though I never had her as a teacher, our families were very close and she played a pivotal role in shaping my own educational career with her amazing insight and wisdom. She is a special person who had an amazing impact on so many.  At 72 years of age, she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and died just a few months later. So why am I telling you this? Let me tell you. On her passing, her Facebook page was flooded with comments from friends, family, colleagues, former students, former associates, etc. Hundreds and hundreds of comments about how much of an impact she made, how much she will be missed, how much she helped, how great of a teacher she was, how she made learning fun, how she taught, how she made people feel, how she could relate, how she was passionate about people, and how devoted she was to this amazing thing called education. All those comments and messages on her Facebook wall. All just one day too late. She won't see any of that. She won't be able to read about and hear from people about how much she impacted them and made a real difference in the lives of so many. In the weeks before she died, there were comments, but mainly of the "thinking about you" and "my prayers are with" variety. Those are great, but why wait until the person is gone before we share with them how special they are to us? Why wait!? Don't wait! At some point, I am certain we all had a teacher or an adult that shaped us or impacted us or changed us for the better. Tell that person before you can't. Tell that person and do it today. As teachers, the greatest thing is to hear from a former student about how much they loved having us as their teacher and how much of a difference we made in their lives. So do that for one of your former teachers. I was one day too late in telling Mary Beth how much of a difference she made and how much I appreciate all she did for me. That makes me sad.  I won't make that mistake again. Call or email a former teacher. Do it. Before you can't.  

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