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  • Writer's pictureJudy

Feb. 11, 2024: Unexpected Loss

It has been a tough week at my elementary school this week.

Early Monday morning, our principal asked the entire staff to gather in the Media Center. One of our 3rd Grade teachers had suddenly passed away the night before. Mark Miessler had been a teacher here at Andover for over a decade and was beloved by all.  The shock and grief enveloped the staff, as we also began to plan for how we would help our students deal with this unexpected tragedy.

As you can imagine, it has been a week of tears, hugs, and memories. We have had extra counselors on site, and teachers, in addition to dealing with our own grief, have been listening to our students as they process this loss.

As the children began to work through their very complex emotions, they all wanted to share their memories.

“He told the best dad jokes.”

“He always made me feel like I could do hard stuff.”

“He always asked about my soccer games.”

“He gave the best hugs.”

“He never made me feel bad when I didn’t get stuff.”

“I could ask questions over and over and he never made me feel dumb.”

“He could always make me laugh, even when I didn’t want to.”

What resonated with me is that none of the memories they shared had anything to do with great lessons, or cool content, or amazing activities, (all of which happened every day in his classroom).  Their vivid memories all had to do with how Mark made them feel.  They had to do with the connections that he had built with each of the students who crossed his path.

This reminds me of the Maya Angelou quote: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Mark certainly demonstrated how to live a life that always makes others feel seen, heard, and valued.

Godspeed, dear friend.

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