25 October 2013

Colleen from Danvers, MA  

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In our time, there are no faceless names.

Colleen Ritzer wasn't just a math teacher from Danvers, Massachusetts. She may not physically have been my neighbor, or biologically been my sister, but she was still those things to me. We were both Americans.

In our time, we are all inextricably linked. And the life and spirit of one woman can have a profound impact on our lives, even if we don't know her.

I don't know how long it has been since I wept, and I don't think I could tell you what the reason was either. It wasn't necessarily the news of the unspeakable tragedy that befell Colleen that got to me; I wept when I realized who she was.

Colleen was a 24-year old math teacher from Danvers, MA. She taught algebra and geometry at the freshman and middle school levels.

There has been too much senseless tragedy in our schools this year, and it might be easy to write off Colleen as just another statistic. But in our time, she is so much more. One only has to visit her Twitter page to see her words and her legacy still living, or listen to her friends and family to know that she was--and always will be--a special part of our larger American community.

Colleen loved her job, performing it with passion, care, and zeal. If everyone in America was as dedicated to their job as Colleen, we would be the happiest, most energetic, most productive nation on Earth! She was exuberant, kind, and dedicated to every single student, no matter their shortcomings or stereotype. She used social media as an outlet to reach her students, posting homework assignments and helpful hints or words of encouragement.

I'm struggling to find the right words to say, but to honor Colleen and those like her in this world, I'll let her do the rest of the talking:

"Geometry - here is the link to the review packet answer key as well as extra problems if interested..."

"Good luck to sophs/juniors on PSATs tomorrow :) I hope there's a proof on there...that would be so much more fun!"

"Now that the school year is in full swing, so are my weekly Target visits. #obsessed"

"Yay math!"


"It's almost the long weekend :) #youcandoit #justkeepswimming #excited"

"Find something good in every day :)"

"Tonight is Meet the Teacher Night!! Encourage your parents/guardians to attend and check out the brand new DHS and meet the awesome staff :)"

"Came home to find Boy Meets World on TV. Happy weekend :)"

"Always thinking of the innocent victims of 9/11 and the loved ones left behind who live in their light every day."

"Full school week ahead. That can only mean one thing: lots of math fun :)"

"No matter what happens in life, be good to people. Being good to people is a wonderful legacy to leave behind."

Tonight, I cried for Colleen from Danvers. 

Like parallel lines, Colleen, we'll never meet. But those you leave behind will keep going, in your honor, upholding your legacy, your joy, and your exuberance every day. If we can do this even fractionally as well as you did, the world will be so much brighter.

Thank you.

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