Art Teacher, Colleague, FriendMay 13, 2016
Saying good bye is never easy
We learn from our parents, teachers, experiences, and many of us are fortunate to learn from friends. One of my most important teachers has been my friend and colleague, Anne Kofler. Anne sadly left this world at the beginning of this month. I’ve been fortunate to call Anne a friend and colleague for some 18 years. She was the elementary art teacher (downstairs) and I was the middle school art teacher (upstairs). We bounced ideas off of each other, laughed over silly things, worked side by side on K-8 art exhibits and curriculum development, and most importantly collaborated on numerous BIG ideas. I don’t know anyone that collaborates like we did. Our main goal was always to help everyone involved know that they were important and without their contribution there was a void.
My favorite collaboration was the time that every student (300) and staff member (45) made a domino out of 9″X12″ black construction paper. One sides dots reflected a math problem, the other was their birthday in dots. The day before February vacation we set up the dominoes in the gym for a big domino drop. Imagine those 345 papers – the slightest of air knocked them down. It was quite the feat setting them up – everyone who helped had an important role. At the designated time students and staff poured into the gym on their tippy toes. It was absolutely silent as our State Senator tapped the first domino to set off the drop. 690 eyes followed the chain reaction and the loudest cheer rocked the building when the last one fell. YES, it worked and there was a smile on everyone’s face knowing that without their domino in place it would not have worked.
Anne went about her work in a quiet steady way – always experimenting with new ideas to apply to lessons. Her greatest gift to her students were her own travel experiences. She always explored with an eye towards how to turn her learning into a lesson for students. Anne was a teacher through and through – I am saddened by her death but know that she lives on in everyone she touched including thousands of students. We knew of her impending death so I was able to spend hours with her and thank her for what she gave to me, our students, and both my sons who she taught elementary art. In Anne’s honor I hope that you take the time to thank a teacher and let them know how much they mean to you.
Anne Philbrick Kofler
Sept.9, 1945 – May 2, 2016
Anne Philbrick Kofler of Alna, Maine passed away on May 2, 2016 at her sister’s home in Alexandria, Virginia. She was born in Alexandria, VA on September 9, 1945 to artists Jane (Philbrick) Kofler and John Kofler. She grew up in the community of Tauxemont, outside of Alexandria, and attended Hollin Hall Elementary School and Mt. Vernon High School. Living in Tauxemont gave Anne many cherished childhood memories such as community picnics, 4th of July celebrations with neighbors, attending Mt Vernon Unitarian Church and attending summer camp at the Highlander Folk School in Monteagle, TN.
After graduating high school, Anne went to Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, NY from 1964-1970 where she earned a BFA. Her son Marshall was born in Brooklyn in 1970. When he was one, they moved to Maine finally settling in Alna, ME in 1980.
In 1979, Anne attended the Shelter Institute, then in Bath, ME, an owner/builder school. By 1980, with encouragement from the school owners and the help of students, she began building her own home in Alna on land once owned by her grandparents. She lived there until her death.
Anne was an art educator for 25 years first in Damariscotta, ME and surrounding towns then further up the coast in the towns of Friendship, Union and Washington. She came from an artistic family. Her grandfather,Allen Philbrick, was an artist, her grandmother, Edith Kellogg Philbrick, a pianist, her father a painter and her mother a painter and stained glass artist. It was this background that led to her career as arts educator. Together Anne and her students, kindergarten – sixth grade, explored the world through art.
An avid traveler, in 2010 Anne realized a life long goal of a trip around the world with stops in Viet Nam, Cambodia, India, Africa and Italy. Others trips took her to Czechoslovakia (now the Czech Republic and Slovakia), Russia, Hungry, France, Cuba,Turkey, Thailand and China. Inspired by her travels, upon retirement, she began painting folding screens. She completed one on Kenya depicting Giraffe Manor, Karen Blixen’s coffee farm outside Nairobi and a safari scene from her experience in the Masai Mara. She was working on one that was to depict highlights of her trip across Rajasthan in 2013 when she died. If not on the road, she enjoyed a good book, gardening and, in later years, her greatest joy was spending time with her grandson Dominic. Together they read, explored museums in Washington, DC and enjoyed the summer sun in Corolla, SC.
Anne was predeceased by her parents. She is survived by her son Marshall Kofler and his wife Dee Zamora of Arlington, VA, sister Susie Kofler of Alexandria, VA, brother John Kofler of Chantilly, VA , beloved grandson Dominic Kofler along with cousins in New Orleans, Houston and Ann Arbor and her uncle’s wife Elaine living in London, Ontario.
As per her wishes, there is to be no funeral service. She asks only that her family and friends find joy in the extraordinary journey of life we shared.