Thursday, July 8, 2010

God Speed to an Admired Teacher and Friend

Vicki Shepard, a career teacher and media specialist at Van Buren Community Schools in southeast Iowa, unexpectedly passed away last week. I taught with Vicki for twenty-one years and admired her both as a person and as an educator.

Here are a few of the traits that made her such a powerful, positive force in her school and in her community.
  • Nurturing and Supportive: There was never any doubt that Ms. Shepard (or "Shep") was there for you, whether you were a faculty member, student, or parent. She believed that making people happier and more successful was important.
  • Positive: Vicki was always able to find some aspect of a situation that cast events in a positive light. What she was able to accomplish was to say, "Yes, this is not a good situation, but how can it be an opportunity to create a better world, a better day, a better relationship?" She emphasized the process of dealing with change and moved attention away from considering an event a concrete, unchangeable occurrence. Win or lose, how could the reality help us deal with tomorrow's match point?
  • Progressive and Evolutionary: The desire to help was not enough. Vicki always ended with a call to action. What are you going to do now? How can you fix the situation to make it better? In the world outside of school, people recognize that sometimes mistakes happen. What defines the individual is the desire and ability to make things right. Vicki taught this powerful, evolutionary behavior to her students. What a powerful gift! OK, you're sorry--now, what are you going to do about it to make things better?
Even with this transition, I believe Ms. Vicki "Shep" Shepard would (or, perhaps, is) asking us to go forward, to learn from this experience, to carry on and use her lessons to make the world a better place. God speed, dear friend. We'll do our best.

Click here for Ottumwa Courier obituary


  1. marni loeffler starnesJuly 8, 2010 at 9:50 PM

    Well said Mr. Kepler... Just got back from our Delta Kappa Gamma Memorial service. Was a wonderful tribute to an even more wonderful lady. I truly believe that Shep is asking us to go forward and make the world a better place.

  2. Thanks, Marni.
    If we are able to reflect on our experience and integrate it into total sense of self, then we have a greater chance of living a richer life. Reflecting on Vicki's impact on my life was a sweet experience for me. She leaves behind a legacy of enthusiasm and kindness.

  3. Thank you for sharing, Tom! Vicki would be honored by your words about her. It is going to be extremely difficult to return to VBHS this fall; there will be such a void that will never be filled. We all loved her so very much.