Updated February 5, 2016, 6:15 p.m.
From the desk of IPS Teacher of the Year Amy Wackerly

Educators across central Indiana have recently suffered a great loss.  Amy Beverland Elementary School of Lawrence Township lost a great educator in a tragic accident.  Principal Susan Jordan will be truly missed by her students and staff.  In her eulogy she was remembered as a legend.  Principal Jordan’s daughter, Lisa Jankowski, said of her mother, “She gave her life for children…and she gave her life for children.”

I sat and thought about that statement.  I thought about what an amazing educator Susan Jordan must have been.  I thought about the educators I’ve had.  I hope they know how special they were to me and what an impact they made on my life.

Last week was also the 30th anniversary of the space shuttle Challenger disaster.  On January 28, 1986, seven people lost their lives 73 seconds into the mission.  Christa McAuliffe was a teacher on that mission. 
I don’t mean to be a downer by talking about these two tragedies.  I really just want to take time to remember that life is often too short, and we are not guaranteed tomorrow.  So, as we approach each day, think about the lives we are impacting.
I’ve been lucky enough to have taught students who are now adults and off on their own.  When I speak to former students it always amazes me what they remember about me or being in my class.  Instances that I may have long forgotten are fresh in the minds of my former students.  One student wrote to me and reminded me of a conversation I had with her about her future.  At the time, she was talking about wanting a career in broadcasting.  She wanted to be on television.  I told her she definitely had the gift of gab (she was quite social), and I thought she would be an amazing news anchor.  This is a conversation that I didn’t remember until she reminded me of it, but it was one that stuck with her and helped inspire her.  I had this student as a 2nd grader and then as a 3rd grader, and received the note from her eight years later.  Our words carry more weight and the possibility of encouragement than we’ll ever know. 
As many students and staff shared their praises for Principal Jordan, I am sure she would have been wowed, humbled and amazed at the outpouring of love and admiration for her.  I am sure some of the stories shared might have slipped her mind, but they did not slip the minds of those she touched.

During this last semester think about what impact you are having on your students’ lives.  What will they take away from being in your class?  What do you think they’ll remember most about you as a person?  Try to take a moment to give a little extra encouragement to a child who may be struggling.  You never know, those conversations you have with students when they are in your class may be something they hold onto and may be something that motivates them in their future endeavors.