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November 26, 2012

The importance of relationships

Kevin Grover

I hope your Thanksgiving was wonderful and that you had a restful break. I know you return to school this morning after your few days off to a variety of students who have had a break that may have been similar to yours or quite different. Most importantly I hope that they are glad to see you because you make a difference in their life. Perhaps this is about the learning that takes place in your classroom or maybe it is for another reason. When a teacher connects with a student whether they are in elementary, middle or high school it is often because of the relationship that has been established. This is also true for the relationship that teachers have with colleagues.

On Friday I learned of a colleague who passed away at age 40 on Thanksgiving when he returned from a morning run. Kevin Grover taught at Falmouth Elementary School and was the 2010 Maine Teacher of the Year. His family was very important to him, he was a husband and the father of two young children. He has made an enormous impact on those he has touched over the years.

When asked about teaching in 2010 Kevin said:  “I love it, two days are never the same. Kids offer so many teachable moments.” He felt strongly about working with parents so they viewed themselves as “partners” in the educational process. He called parents “the most important teacher” in a child’s life and said “parents need to be aware of what their child is doing in school and be comfortable speaking to teachers.” And about relationships Kevin said: “To help motivate them, I have to establish relationships and figure out their interests, and incorporate their interests in their school work.” He would greet students each day as they entered his classroom to “get a sense of how each child is feeling”.

Kevin loved technology and incorporated it into his classroom in a variety of ways. Kevin was the first teacher that I saw using a flip camera. I noticed how comfortable he was with it, one time using it in between his speaking responsibilities at an event at the State House. He was curious, interested, and deeply committed to learning and teaching.

Teachers don’t know where their teaching ends and I am certain that even though Kevin is gone from Earth that his impact will continue.

Kevin with his flip camera as Governor Baldacci and the First Lady prepare to speak

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