When a teacher dies

Last night I went to the memorial service for a teacher my husband and I worked with for five years. Monica Castellano, or Ms. Rupard, was only 31 when she lost her fight against breast cancer. The room was absolutely packed with family, friends, other teachers, and student after student after student. Her former students lined the walls and waited outside. They wept openly and performed musical tributes. We watched in a reverenced awe as her husband, also a teacher, smiled broadly and told the room not to be sad. “All she wanted is for people to live up to their potential,” he said. “And so do what you have in you to do – for Monica.”

Colleagues, last night I was reminded again of the sacred nature of our profession. Monica’s life made a difference. Students are deeply impacted by the loss of a teacher and as I looked around the room I could see grief as well as a renewed sense of urgency in their desire to succeed. “It really makes me want to do something with my life,” one student said to me later, “I feel like I owe it to her.”

Monica’s service also reaffirmed the essential goodness of our profession – teachers are doing good in this world. Life is short but teaching is one heck of a great way to make a difference with the time we have. So be encouraged y’all . . . we’re doing good work. “Do what you have in you to do.”

One of my colleagues passed along this YouTube video of a dance Monica helped choreograph and perform. In it you can hear the kids chanting “Rupard! Rupard! Rupard!”

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3 thoughts on “When a teacher dies

  1. Shanell Rupard says:

    My beautiful sister Monica looks simply amazing in this video and I absolutely love it!! Thank you for sharing this!!

    -Shanell Rupard

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