Mourning A Teacher

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So many people feel such deep grief at the loss of Cynthia Pool, a chemistry teacher at Payson High School.

She was a good woman and a wonderful teacher — who died with shocking suddenness. In her last moment, she concentrated on saving the friend who rode with her.

And all of this would be sufficient reason to mourn her passing.

But there’s more.

She was a teacher, and we needed her.

So in the midst of this great grief, we hope that the other teachers who we also need so urgently will see that the memories and lamentations all bear witness to how many lives this one teacher touched.

In truth, we have all found our way in this life because of such teachers — the ones who cared so much and tried so hard. For instance, Cynthia Pool would sometimes set food on fire as kids watched in astonishment — then explain how many calories are crammed into junk foods. She found a way to turn a lecture into a vivid lesson that would affect her students’ eating habits for the rest of their lives.

We all have had such teachers: The history teacher who taught the battle of Lexington and Concord from the British point of view; the drama teacher who showed us how to turn imagination into performance; the science teacher who used atmospheric pressure to crush a five-gallon gas can.

Great teachers change your viewpoint, unlock your dreams, harness your imagination. And we’re blessed that so many of them care so deeply.

We don’t pay them enough. We don’t give them enough autonomy. We don’t thank them nearly enough.

But we do need them. Moreover, teaching remains one of the handful of professions in which you can change lives and shape character.

So we join with the family and friends and students in mourning the loss of a great teacher.

And we hope that all those other teachers who will show up for work tomorrow with a new way to help kids understand abstractions like calories know that in mourning Cynthia, we’re also thanking them.

Thanks for showing up

Whew. What a weekend.

We had volunteers toiling up the East Verde, picking up 50 bags of trash. We had 5,000 people climbing into the stands at the rodeo grounds, cheering on some of the best teen ropers and riders in the country.

We had 5,000 people drifting past quilters’ booths, and 84 vendors at the Strawberry Festival, and the performers at the Blues Festival.

We had the state chili cookoff in the casino parking lot and jazz singers at the Presbyterian Church — not to mention a swarm of people running in a triathlon.

Hopefully, hard-pressed Rim businesses will feel the effects of all this activity at the cash register. After April’s unsettling sales tax declines, the Rim’s economy needs a jolt so we can continue to stagger on toward recovery.

But we wanted to pause a moment to thank all the folks who worked so hard and long to pull off so many events. While we’re at it, thanks also to the people working right now to pull off the Fourth of July bash — which could draw even bigger crowds than last year.

Now, we realize that lots of people come to live in Rim Country because they want a place to rest on their laurels — the soothing reward for a life of hard work. They’d like Payson and other Rim communities to remain quiet little towns. Maybe they don’t even like all the hoopla and traffic such a weekend lineup generates.

But then, the retirees who play such a vital role in our economy also appreciate the police protection, the quick response of the firefighters, the presence of the medical center, the shops and stores. All of those services depend on maintaining a healthy, diverse community. The out-of-town visitors drawn to such Rim activities play a vital role in our economy, especially during this downturn.

So the people who labor to bring off all those events make vital contributions to their neighbors — and to the health and stability of this community. And what you’ll notice as you wander from event to event is that a hard core of people tend to get involved in many of them. These volunteers, organizers and activists remain the heart of this community.

We don’t thank you often enough. But we wanted to make sure we did it today. So take a breath — and bask in the knowledge of a job well done.

Then best get busy: Fourth of July is coming up, you know. We’re counting on you.

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