Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Jean Cannon

On Sunday last week, I was doing some Christmas shopping at Target hoping to get a majority of it finished. But I kept running into people I hadn’t seen for awhile so stopped to catch up with them. One person I ran into was Jean Cannon. Jean retired from the middle school last year after 35 years of teaching! Jean taught 8th grade Language Arts and was a master of dealing with that tough age. She taught writing to kids who didn’t want to write. She taught reading to kids who didn’t want to read. She taught the value of education to those who could care less. Jean left her mark on all the students she taught through the years. She didn’t stop teaching just because she retired from the middle school. Jean went on to teach English Comp at the local community college.

I’ll always remember the first time I met her. She was in class and I had to go ask something. I quietly opened the door a sliver and found a completely dark room except for one small candle on Jean’s desk. She was reading The Tell Tale Heart and the kids were engrossed. I quickly shut the door and hoped I hadn’t spoiled the mood. She let me sit in for the next class and I was amazed. Of course, the candle burning would not be allowed today.

I was so happy to see Jean on Sunday. It had been awhile seen we had seen each other and we were able to catch up. We chatted about mutual friends and colleagues. Have you seen so and so? How is she doing? Lots of small talk and catch up talk. We talked about retirement. I am still wavering about retiring in 2010 and Jean and I talked about the pros and cons of taking the plunge. We talked about the homeless shelter that was just voted down. Jean was furious. It was to be an emergency family shelter housed in a school that was no longer used. Jean had planned to volunteer there helping kids with their homework. We talked about Jean’s upcoming trip in the spring. We talked about our grandsons. Henry and Aiden are the same age and we were comparing the phases they were going through. She said she hoped to live long enough to see Henry outgrow this stage.

Jean had a massive heart attack on Tuesday. And she did not live long enough to see her grandson outgrow this phase. But she did live long enough to love her grandchildren and share a special bond with them. And she did live long enough to touch the lives of so many of Concord’s children. And she did live long enough to influence so many educators and help them become better teachers and people.

But she didn’t live long enough for us. The school is grieving and Jean is so sorely missed.

Good night Jean. Sleep well.

Jean Cannon Dec. 21, 1946 – Dec. 14, 2008

No comments: