Last night our house got the very sad news that the teacher the girls had last year for first grade had suddenly passed away. As I type these words I still cannot fully wrap my mind around the fact that she is not in her classroom today.
Georgie Krenz was a woman that I admired and respected for so many reasons and while I struggle to make sense of what has happened I feel like writing has become a great therapy for me and is the best outlet I have to fully appreciate all of the gifts she gave our family.
My girls transferred schools last year just before Christmas break. We were in a tough spot with our old school and our kids were struggling academically and emotionally. We made the choice to switch schools and we became part of Mrs. Krenz’s Critters in her first grade class. She took my girls under her wing and blended them into her little flock immediately. My girls came home the first day wishing that they didn’t have to leave school and could just spend the night.
Over the course of the school year Mrs. Krenz became an advocate for my kids, making sure that they got the extra help they needed. Thanks to her incredible teaching we saw our kids take off in areas they had been struggling in and they came home every day excited to tell us about the new things they learned.
She had nicknames for all her Critters and last night we went through as many of them as we could remember. We laughed about how much she loved Diet Coke and how she had three different ways to sing Happy Birthday. She gave out hugs when they were needed most and made the kids laugh at her stories about her kids and her husband.
I had the opportunity to volunteer in her classroom every Wednesday to help with spelling and writing. After the first day I came home and told my husband that it was truly like watching an artist at work. The way she talked to the kids and the little phrases she used to keep their eyes and minds glued on her were second nature to her. She had a way of kindly commanding respect and she taught the kids to be good people, not just good students. Every kiddo got a moment of her time and she knew exactly what gentle nudges each one needed. She was the definition of patience and demonstrated daily how to live a life of kindness
Watching her teach was like watching a potter slowly, gently and patiently mold clay. You may think this sounds over the top, but if you watched her in class you would know I speak the truth. She was made for teaching.
Thanks to being in her classroom I began to know her on a personal level and I am grateful for the small conversations we had beyond the kids and the classroom. The more I got to know this fellow mom of twins, the more I admired and respected her. In fact I believe I told a friend of mine this summer that I wanted to be like Mrs. Krenz when I grew up.
She had a passion for life in that she didn’t just talk about doing things that she loved, she went and did them. She consistently told her class about the places she’d visited and the things she loved to do and she had the pictures to prove it.
She nearly jumped out of her skin the week before her son got married because she was so happy and excited. The following week the kids were so excited because he and his new wife came to visit her classroom after the wedding. They were celebrities to those kids.
As I followed her online over the summer she taught me one very important lesson. Life should be fun. If something brings you joy, go do it. As I watched videos of kayaking (with and without paddles) and saw pictures of endless fishing in Canada I saw someone who followed her joy.
Perhaps the best memory my kids and I have with Mrs. Krenz was the day that she invited us to come over and swim in her pool over the summer. I challenge anyone reading this to think of one of your grade school teachers who would be willing to bring students to her house. We spent two hours talking as the girls jumped on the rafts and soaked up every minute of being with her. It is a day that none of us will ever forget and a day that we will lock in our hearts forever.
People are placed in our lives for reason, I believe that with all my being. I am thankful that we never missed an opportunity to tell her how much she meant to us. This is one of those moments that stops you in your tracks and forces you to never take a moment or relationship for granted. It forces you to love hard on the ones close to you and always tell them how much you care for them.
Be like Mrs. Krenz, live your life with purpose and strive to be the good in the lives of those around you.
There is a long road of healing ahead for our family and our school, but as we instantly experienced at drop off today, we are a tight knit tribe and our school will care for our kids as we all care for each other.
Thank you Mrs. Krenz for all the lessons you taught us in the classroom and the lessons you taught us about life. You touched more lives than you could ever know.