In honor of my dear friend, KathiSue Summers, who left this earth much too soon.
I was assembling Spark Moment jars for our district's digital engagement team when I received a call from a friend with news that shattered my heart in an instant. My good friend, KathiSue Summers, had passed away from Covid. To be honest, I’m still in shock and haven’t fully processed the emotion that comes with knowing a friend, whom I’ve experienced countless moments with, is no longer on this earth. However, as I look back on the 101 photos on my phone (thank you iphone for recognizing faces) I am captivated by the “spark moments” we shared. The irony isn’t lost on me that it was in the moment of creating these spark moment jars to capture life’s most precious and fleeting moments, that I’d be confronted with how truly precious these moments are.
These are just a few of the lessons KathiSue taught me from our moments together that I will carry with me always:
Love people fully and unconditionally. KathiSue never knew a stranger. She loved extravagantly and always made people feel special and cared for whether by verbal words of encouragement or a thoughtful note, card, or gift. I'll never forget the sweet little gifts she found for me and the words of encouragement she gave me throughout the years. They always came at the perfect time. She loved to share about her family, friends, and those she served. She was always so proud of the successes of others. There was never a doubt how much the people in her life mattered to her. What a powerful love!
Never stop learning and growing.
When I met KathiSue, she was a retired public school educator/administrator, however you would never know it. Her passion for education was like nothing I’d seen before. She had a thirst to continually learn and find the best ways to make education amazing and reach ALL students. She was always eager to share the latest thing she learned and participated in every educational opportunity she was able to take part in. She leaned into all experiences and "cannonballed" into learning. I'll never forget the video she shared with Tara Martin and I of her "cannonballing" into the swimming pool at her gym to illustrate her passion for trying new things. Her passion was unmatched, awe-inspiring and a great reminder that learning never ends.
I remember when I was first getting to know KathiSue as a member of the Southern Oregon Edtech Cadre, my friend Heather Marrs and I shared the power of Twitter at our regional meeting. KathiSue immediately shared her dislike for this social media platform, but characteristic to KathiSue’s thirst for learning she decided she’d give it another try. Goodness did she! She found her people and before long was jumping into Twitter chats and becoming a vital part of various educational communities. Soon after, she became a part of Voxer conversations where she was in daily conversation with educators from around the world. These communities fueled her. The lives she touched through her connections in these spaces is far-reaching and profound. Find your people. Whether that is in your community, on social media, or on apps like Voxer, community is essential and life-giving.
Smile big and laugh often.
KathiSue’s smile and laugh filled a room. As I scroll through my pictures, I am captured by the joy that emanates from her even in a photograph. Her smile came easy and her laughter was infectious. Smiles and laughter are contagious and bring joy to those who are fortunate enough to receive it.
Be a mentor.
KathiSue was a mentor to many: former students, her connected professional learning network, and new teachers she mentored through the Southern Oregon Education Service District. She found great purpose in sharing her learning and experience with others. There are always people who can learn from our story and journey.
Find ways to bring people together.
KathiSue loved bringing people together whether it was for a CoffeeEDU, dinner, a game night, or virtual event or meet-up. Community meant so much to her and she jumped at any chance to be with those she loved. As the tributes come flooding in as news of her passing spreads, I'm touched by the intersections of her far-reaching connections and relationships. She truly brought so many people together in ways I didn't realize. We are truly better together.
These are just 5 lessons of many that I will carry with me always. It is no coincidence that I’m busy making spark moment jars today. I am so grateful I have captured so many spark moments with my dear friend, KathiSue. The jars will now take on a deeper meaning as I cherish even more each day and moment with those I love and serve.
If you’d like to make a spark jar for yourself, colleague, or team you work with here’s how:
Spark Moment Jar
1 mason jar (quart or pint)
1 colorful pen
Gift tag with hole for threading
Spark Moment card (printed on cardstock or paper)
Some of my favorite spark moments with KathiSue that I will forever cherish.
Tech Integration Specialist in Southern Oregon and author of Make Learning Magical. I'm passionate about finding innovative ways to transform teaching and create unforgettable experiences in the classroom.