Yesterday the community joined together to say good-bye to our dear friend, Ingrid. Ingrid was my friend but she was so much more than that.
As a teacher, she was my colleague and mentor. We learned much from each other and always knew that our professional collaborations strengthened our teaching and our students' learning. She learned about giving choice in assignments and I learned about how to make my assignments more relevant, enjoyable and effective. She knew more about tailoring assignments to individuals and I knew more about cooperative learning. As a high school teacher she had always taught 'on her own'. As an elementary teacher I had team taught many units and grades. I had an elementary background, hers was high school. She came to the profession as a single young professional. I came much later as a wife, mother of four and was not so young. We had a healthy respect for each other and weren't afraid to say how much we admired what the other brought to our practice. I loved discussing education with Ingrid. We had different approaches and experiences but we shared a passion for 'our kids' and their learning.
Ingrid was single throughout her teaching career and her career and her students, along with sport and photography, were her life. Her geography and history courses brought the world to life for students from our very small town. At her memorial yesterday a former student, encouraged and challenged by Ingrid, had just a couple of weeks before stood at the edge of the Grand Canyon, a life goal inspired by Ingrid some 13 years earlier. He e-mailed her that night to share his experience with her only to find out she had passed away that day. Her travels and her magnificent photos of those travels brought the world into the classrooms of that small town. Many of our local students were inspired to see the world because of Ingrid's own travels.
Ingrid taught all four of our children. They were very different students with very different personalities and very different areas of strength. As only a gifted teacher can do Ingrid identified those strengths and pushed each of them to fulfill all the potential she saw within them, not just their academic strengths but their personal strengths as well. As my oldest daughter spoke, through her tears, she thanked Ingrid for seeing the leadership within her and for pushing her to both recognize and apply that leadership. Our other kids didn't speak but they could have and I know in their own minds they were also thanking Ingrid for seeing their potential, insisting they work to that potential and for supporting them both inside of school and out.
More importantly Ingrid was our friend. When we moved to our small town in 1978 with two small children in tow Ingrid opened us with welcome arms. She invited us to her apartment just down the hall to help decorate her Christmas tree that year and a lifelong friendship was forged. When our two babies arrived a few years later she welcomed them like they were her family. Through all of our kids' growing up years Ingrid was there. She attended anything and everything they were involved in. She cheered them on and patted them on the back. She was proud of each of them. She told us repeatedly how blessed our family was and what wonderful people we were raising. As parents you can't hear that enough times. As students and young people you can't hear that enough times. Ingrid attended family dinners, wedding showers, weddings and baby showers. Her eyes glistened with love through all of these events.
Our children were all athletes and I don't recall Ingrid every missing a game. Didn't matter what the game was or where it was being played, she was there. She cheered them on from the gymnasium stands and on the sides of fields. She was often there when my husband and I were playing sports as well. She cheered less for us than she did for the kids :) Ingrid specialized in field hockey and our three daughters were so lucky to have had such a knowledgeable, enthusiastic coach. She taught them the game but she also taught them about responsibility, sportsmanship and dedication.
Ingrid and I were also team mates. We played ball hockey for many years together on a team full of women with passion for sport and quirky senses of humour. She encouraged me to play field hockey, not my forte, with a bunch of seasoned players. After a game or two we realized it would be to everyone's benefit if I just stayed in the goal. Her friends from field hockey were my friends from fastball, basketball and volleyball. Ingrid and I golfed together as well. As mentioned by many at her memorial, Ingrid loved to talk. She was the only person I ever golfed with who never stopped her conversation while approaching, lining up and hitting the ball. She loved the game and was fun to play with.
As mentioned above, Ingrid was a consummate photographer. We spent many hours looking through the pictures of the many trips she had been on. I envied her widespread travels and her photographic talent. I have just taken up photography in the last couple of years and remember so many of the conversations we had around her beautiful pictures, particularly in the areas of lighting and composition.
Ingrid had a large circle of friends and it was nice to see them at her memorial. Each of us had a story to tell, whether we told it or not. Each of us had a connection to this amazing woman. Each of us spent time on Sunday remembering a particular memory of how she had touched our lives. Each of us felt our world was just a little smaller without her in it. It's so hard to say good-bye to the people we have loved, especially when they have touched our lives in a special way. Ingrid never missed an opportunity to pass on a positive comment. She is one of few people in my life who will have left this world with nothing unsaid. We knew how Ingrid felt about our family and she knew how our family felt about her. When I think of her I will always be reminded to say what's in my heart.