When A Community Mourns A Teacher…Farewell Skye McGowan

Originally posted on August 16th, 2010

Two weeks ago, our school lost one of its most effective, dynamic, engaging and powerful teachers.  I have written him a letter, which I share with you now only to connect you with why I have been unable to post the last two weeks.  It’s hard to suffer the loss of a mentor and friend that was so core to your beliefs as a teacher, and had the impact you hope to have on students and their lives.   Here’s the letter.  It was also posted on the Skye McGowan Memorial Page on Facebook, where nearly 1000 students, family, friends, peers and others have been showing support for this powerhouse of learning.

Dear Skye,

I thought sitting down to write this would be painful, difficult; it is neither as I sit here now. I suppose it has much to do with the beauty of the legacy you have left behind. I have seen the power of your thought, the insight of your teaching and the smiles your memory brings to others. While I still have difficulty imagining that I will no longer be able to turn to you directly for support and encouragement as I have in the past, I find that your indelible personality leaves me with the ability to imagine the way you would approach and respond to the questions I might ask.

Skye, you are a force. I knew this about you when I first approached you to learn more about your classes, about the methods you used to inspire and empower students. I am so thankful that you shared yourself and your methods with us, that we all benefitted from your passion. While your loss is staggering to those who knew you best, I am so proud of the students and young people who have attended in so many ways to your memory. There have been stories of exceptional lessons, of heartfelt connections with students and their needs and of the daily questioning of the status quo that we should all do more often. I’ve talked little over the past several days about you, because I haven’t needed to. Who you are and what you stand for is so vividly displayed in all who know you, it needs no rehearsal by me.

You will be remembered Skye. If it be through the sunflowers that now hold much more meaning to those who saw your casket illuminated by their golden faces, or through the pages of Sophie’s World, Life of Pi or Hamlet as we try to see them through the lens of your inquisitive nature. There will be tributes; places named and donations given to your honour and that of your family. There will be glasses raised and soft sweet words spoken about a man that touched hearts and energized minds. There will be words written that will never be enough to explain the impact of a man I called a friend, a colleague and (though never to you directly) a mentor.

Thank you Skye for all that you are, and continue to be.

In Memoriam,

Derek Keenan

I will follow up with a regular post shortly.  Thanks for reading!


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