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Losing a Mentor and Friend


When I returned from a backpacking trip in California, I learned that my mentor and longtime friend Glynn Calahan had died. She was elderly and burdened with health problems. When I saw her at church on our last visit to El Dorado, we hugged, and she asked about my daughters, Christen and Anna. I will miss Mrs. Calahan very much, but am thankful that I was able to be a teacher in her school.

Below is an excerpt from something I wrote a couple of years ago about Glynn.

In the early 1990s, I applied to teach elementary music in El Dorado while I worked on my master’s degree in counseling. It turned out to be one of the best career moves I’ve ever made.

Since Glynn had known me since childhood, I assumed we’d have a 30-minute “courtesy interview.” I was wrong about that. We spent two hours together. She asked some challenging questions and shared her heart for education. By the end of our interview, I had a much better understanding of her love for students and her philosophy about teaching and learning.

What followed were two of my favorite years in education. I began to think of Glynn as a mentor, watching everything she did. I’d never considered becoming a school principal until after seeing the positive impact she had on students and teachers.

Later, when I became a principal, I tried to be just like her and often noticed similar practices. I had my white notebook (now Chromebook) with students’ test scores and for my observations in classrooms. I had benches placed in the hallways for mini-conferences with students about their learning. I visited classrooms a lot. As a beginning principal, I didn’t know what I was looking for, but I visited classrooms often like I’d seen Glynn do, and there was value in that.

There is no way to measure the influence of Glynn Calahan. It continues through her students and teachers today, and for years to come.

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