Yesterday 6/3/2016 was our last day of school for teachers at Theodore Roosevelt High School (TR). All that had to be done was logistical stuff (grades, turning in books, getting signed out, etc.). I got to the school early to get some stuff lined up to make my “checkout” quick and easy. At 10:30 we had a staff meeting to review the year, cover some business items, recognize a few teachers who were transferring, and celebrate three teachers who were retiring after quality careers in education. One specific teacher who is retiring stuck out to me. Heather Farmer is a graduate of TR c/o 1982. Beginning in 1986, she then spent her entire teaching career at her Alma Mater.
As our principal wrapped up speaking about the three retirees, he gave them a chance to say something. The first two gave short and sweet messages that mainly said “keep up the good work” and “thank you.” When the microphone was given to Heather, she tried to speak but only managed to work out “I don’t know what to say, this is all I’ve ever known” before emotion cut her off, taking over the second half of her sentence. Nothing beats passion, nothing.
I caught up with Heather after the meeting to ask her a few questions. I wasn’t about to not ask my favorite questions of somebody with, not the only the experience, but with the mind she has. So I asked:
Are you kidding me? I’ll let you peel away the layers on your own. But her answer was not about her, it was about the “others” in other people’s lives. Basically, your success is helping others help others. She compared it to dropping a pebble in water and watching the ripple effect. No further explanation needed. Next question:
It’s clear to me why she is so respected as a teacher and a human being. I told her that I found it fitting she didn’t say much when holding the microphone. What could she possibly say that spoke louder than the way she approached her craft as a teacher? She is focused, driven, fun, and authentic. Heather Farmer embodies what “actions speak louder than words” is.
This is what I want you to take away from reading this: Don’t live quietly. Live as loudly as possible. Speak so much by your actions that no words will ever match your output. If you’re a teacher, teach loudly. If you’re a construction worker, build loudly. Cook loudly, bank loudly, be a freaking librarian loudly!
After three decades of teaching, Heather has taken roll for the last time, but her own personal ripple effect will never stop.