A week or so ago I received some sad news. I found out that Gretchen Vare passed away. Gretchen worked at my elementary school Stratford Friends School and was like a family member to the Cahill Family.
I received the news from my Mom when I woke up. Once when she saw the email she ran into my room to tell me. The reason I am writing about this now is because I wanted to try to find the right words to describe what Gretchen meant to me and how much she will be missed.
I started Stratford Friends School (SFS) after having a hard time at my previous school. As a third grader, I had little self-confidence about my reading skill. At this point I was so use to knowing that I sucked at reading and SFS was designed to help struggling readers like me. Gretchen’s position was not a teacher. She was in the administrative section of the school. But she saw something in me and knew I had what it takes to succeed. At this point, I wasn’t sure if I could read chapter books. She also liked me because I reminded of her son. Caring and kind to others and always wanted to do good.
Gretchen had my back at my time at SFS and beyond. She was always there to look out for me and was a cheerleader through my high moments and lowest. After I graduated from SFS and started high school I was looking for a job. I visited her one day and said that I was interested in working at SFS summer program. In the middle of that sentence she was yes you should work here and brought me to see the head of school right away.
And after that I worked at SFS every summer until this summer. As I gained more experience working with students, I knew this was what I wanted to do. And I realized at that moment what Gretchen saw in me. She saw someone who wanted to help people. And I essential have made my career of doing this. Through my education degree, work at Eye to Eye, work with LD/ADHD students during the summer and even this blog, I am helping people.
She did all of this without asking anything in return. I knew Gretchen was sick for a while but despite her own concerns, she was always there to help and support others. I was reading the comments that people were leaving on the SFS facebook page and it was similar to mine. She was always good to people. Always they’re to help.
As I said I did not work at SFS this summer. I got a summer job working with high school students at DVFS. And I was excited about my new experience but sad at leaving SFS. On my facebook, I posted that I was starting my first day at DVFS Summer Program. Gretchen responded by saying “we will sure miss you at SFS Matt!” This is the last time me and her communicated. Gretchen was a big supporter of this blog. She shared it to people and commented on it.
Gretchen was a one of a kind person. She cared about people and put others first even when she was really sick. You just don’t see that everyday. The best that I can try to do is keep here spirit of helping alive. That is why I am dedicating the second year of Temple’s Eye to Eye in her name. The work that we do of mentoring students with LD/ADHD would have been right up her alley. I know that she is looking down on me still. Still having my back and will be there when I continue to see the full pretention that she saw in that scared 10 year old at his first day at SFS.
Gretchen thank you for everything and the world will not be the same without you.
At my last year at SFS as a student, we dedicated this song to Gretchen.