Thursday, November 4, 2010

on the passing of one who lived well, fully, and with vigor

I found out yesterday that one of my history teachers from high school was killed in a car accident in Greece. Mrs. Sarah Bayrd was fortunate enough to die doing what she loved, and with a friend no less.

I was shocked by the news, as one always is when death knocks so close to home. But, it is good to always be reminded of the fragility of life, as you never know when he will come knocking for you.

So I remember her. She was the most unique teacher I've ever had (or known for that matter). Vibrant doesn't even begin to cut it. Her energy engulfed the entire school, it seemed. I can't remember her without a smile on her face, and a little sparkle (of mischief, perhaps) in her eyes. I was never very enthralled by history in general, and I certainly fell asleep trying to read history textbooks (too bad I only discovered historical fiction novels later on), but I remember her class. I remember that she brought history out of the text and into your face. We were always engaged in projects, and the class was always interesting. The things I remember the most, and which I feel helped to shape the person I am today, are her "muckraker" lessons. This is when she challenged us to do as Upton Sinclair did in "The Jungle," and dig up the muck. In this context, I remember the famous lecture on how hot dogs are made (what they are made of, to be more precise). Same for canned meat. Meat packing plants. And then finding out about genetically modified foods. And to this day, I have a fear of hotel/motel rooms because of her lecture on all the cleaning practices/ bacteria lurking in them.

I feel like this sort of digging and questioning has helped me to be a more conscious consumer, and a much healthier person overall. Thank you, Mrs. Bayrd.

What blows me away is how many lives she has touched. Within a day of the news of her death, almost 2,000 people had already posted memories, anecdotes, and messages of love and admiration on a facebook page created for her. She affected so many lives in such positive ways- inspiring, teaching, loving, laughing, and spreading her passion for history, for travel, for teaching and learning, and for life in general. What a beautiful legacy to leave behind.

Sarah Bayrd, your passions live on in all who knew you, and may your spirit always find adventure.

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