An educator dies in Luverne

There is an enormous disconnect in this country on the subject of teachers and educators.

The amount of disrespect shown for the profession can be found in the comments on any post I’ve ever done on the subject. Educators are a near constant punching bag by people who profess to know how to do the job better, but never bothered to try to prove it.

And yet, back when I did the “You Should Meet” series on NewsCut, which sought to highlight people doing extraordinary things as a matter of routine, the majority of submissions from NewsCut readers involved a teacher or educator.

Tim Christensen died in Luverne, Minn., on Sunday, according to his obituary. He was just 52 and he died at home.

It received no news coverage.

He was a local kid — Luverne High School class of ’83 — got married, left the area for a life in business and eventually returned to town and turned to teaching, getting his degree at the age of 32.

He started teaching fourth grade, became a principal and a baseball coach, and became the principal and athletic director at the high school in Adrian, Minn., in 2007.

I never met him, I didn’t know him, and some obituaries can leave you wanting more.

People are remembering him on the Luverne Area Chatter Facebook page and it’s a reminder of the people who get up in the morning before the sun to go make a difference in your kid’s life.

Here’s an example from Matt Kruger, who now lives in Portland, Ore.:

I remember Tim’s first day teaching science to us in 5th grade at Luverne Elementary school. He was “the cool new teacher that could walk on his hands.”

I remember excelling at science and Tim taking special interest in my progression as I was naturally good at it. One time I had a bad week and a lot of stuff going on in my personal life and failed an assignment in his class.

When he handed me the paper, he asked if I was doing okay and if everything was okay. I told him I was fine when I wasn’t.. As he walked away I started to tear up, not because I failed the assignment, but because I let Tim down and didn’t know how to say it.

The guy was an amazingly smart man, a great teacher, funny, and it’s a shame he is gone so soon. My condolences to his family. May God be with all of you. Prayers from Portland Oregon Tim…thank you for shaping this mind and teaching me skills that have lead to great things.

And this…

It was a privilege to work with Tim at AHS. I’m so glad I got to spend a few minutes visiting with him in Dec. before we left Adrian for the winter.

One of the things I got to tell him was how honored I was that he took an hour out of his busy schedule to attend my father’s funeral in Oct. That’s the kind of guy he was. Little did I ever expect that day would be our final goodbye. RIP Mr. C

His visitation will be tomorrow. There was some concern his son wouldn’t make it back from the Peace Corps in China in time, but he arrived yesterday, the Facebook page reported.

In his honor tomorrow, maybe people could stop punching for a day.

  • Will

    Thank you Mr. C for your service to our community, Bob please don’t preemptively play the victim card for others when there is no need. Those of us who disagree politically with teacher unions still have respect for teachers and their service.

    • Jerry

      It’s not always about you

      Edit: I stand corrected

    • You’re speaking for everyone, are you? That’s not arrogant at all.

      Why just the other day you belittled teachers noting you’d give it a try because you’d be done work at 2 and have three months off. At the very least, it showed an ignorance of what a teacher does. And if it didn’t show ignorance, then it showed a lack of respect.

      You own it, sir. Don’t hide behind me.

      • Will

        You were making assumptions for others.

        Mirror time…

        • That’s right, based on my observation and watching people in the “those who can’t, teach” caucus, people who are self-proclaimed experts on teaching who never had the courage to actually go get a teaching degree and give it a try, diminishing those who do.

          Why do they do they resort to the “3 months off and done by 2pm” nonsense? Because otherwise they’d have to have knowledge.

          And knowledge is hard.

          • Will

            How about this, we’ll wait and see if your political digs and hints were necessary by actually observing these actual comments.

            This person sounds like a good person there’s nothing political here it’s about respecting a person who served the community so let’s leave it there.

          • And you just unintentionally revealed what’s behind people using teachers as a punching bag.

          • Sam M

            I don’t see where politics was brought into the discussion or the post. People from all political persuasions criticize.

          • Sam M

            I would add it’s not just teachers that get banged on. I think we forget what a difficult job being an administrator is as well.

          • Thus the term “educators”

          • Sam M

            Yes I noticed that in the post. It gets lost that there are a lot of people outside of teachers that make our schools work.

          • AbhMPLS

            I assume you run a school or are a principal, engineer, teacher’s aide, social worker or the like then Sam?

          • Sam M

            Nope my wife is a teacher though and she comes from a family of teachers. I’m just a lowly accountant.

      • Oh and then we had our friend who couldn’t handle seeing a teacher “high five” his class as they came to school.

        the BEST teachers were the ones who maintained their dignity as adults in charge who knew what was best, and DEMANDED the best from each student. They weren’t big buddies slapping hands–they were adults behaving like adults in charge.

        “Undignified”, he said. Harumph.

        Was he a teacher?

        Nope. He had an Internet connection and Google.

      • KariBemidji

        Teachers and educators get belittled everyday because everyone has been a student and so obviously we know what it takes to get the job done.

        My husband is a teacher and I take this way more personally than he does. He gets worked up when he has a student that isn’t participating, isn’t engaging, isn’t learning. And then finds out that his home life is crap. Algebra is not a priority when you’re trying to survive.

      • Will

        Stating facts and volunteering to do a job isn’t showing a lack of respect. My god, the political bias in these comments today is sad. Well at least our tax dollars pay for this liberal safe space.

        • Sam M

          You need to point where politics have been brought up in this post. You sir are making it political. I agree with some things you say but you are way out there on this one.

          I would also add that I disagree with Bob on many things as well but this story was a good reminder for everyone.

          • Will

            It started with the first 2 sentences of this article, there’s underlying attack there and it was unnecessary.

          • Jerry

            I have no idea how you can take that as a partisan dig. Your reading of this says more about your assumptions than Bob’s. Try not to hijack every thread with your persecution complex.

          • Will

            Sure but this is the same group who thinks the term “Democrat” is some kind of “slur”. With that I’m done on this thread today. You can only be singled out, targeted and insulted so many times by the group before it is enough.

          • Do I detect the faint aroma of a victim card?

            I’ll alert the interns in Jason Lewis’ office you’ll be calling.

          • rover27

            I consider myself a Democrat and don’t consider it a slur at all. What I do consider a slur is when people(usually so-called conservatives) refer to the party I usually vote for as the “Democrat” Party. That’s a slur.

          • Sam M

            Yeah I guess I just don’t read it that way. Good luck on the one man war on this one.

          • crystals

            Please say more about how the first two sentences are an attack and who they are attacking. It’s fascinating to see how you’ve turned those sentences into something that fits your worldview and I’m genuinely curious how that works.

          • Nah, that’s OK. I think we’ve heard enough from Will and pretty much recognize what’s what. It’s calmly quiet and rather pleasant in here now .

        • John O.

          Will, please take the worn out talking points about “taxpayer funded,” “liberal safe place,” “political bias” crap out into the hallway. We’re just as entitled to post here as you are. If that means you have to call me names, fine. Have at it.

          I’ll pre-empt you too: if Bob wants to put me in a NewsCut “time-out,” for violating the rules on commenting on other commenters, that’s fine…I’ll take it.

          P.S. You forgot to insert the term “snowflake.” Sad!

        • We’re all moderates here, Will.

        • Jay T. Berken

          You, my good friend, need a hug.

        • Jerry

          Maybe try not to be the comment section version of milfoil.

  • crystals

    I’m a member of Luverne Area Chatter and have been watching these remembrances come through. I didn’t know Tim myself but know many that did, and it’s really moving that you’ve shared a little bit of his life here.

  • Mike Worcester

    I’m a teacher’s kid. A damn proud one at that. For all the hassle classroom teachers receive (from nearly every angle), of this I will firmly stand by — When you ask adults who some of their primary positive influences were as kids, they nearly always mention a teacher or two (or a coach or both) who motivated them, challenged them, pushed them, consoled them, and stood by them. Those legacies cannot be undone. And thanks to social media, we get to seen them shared by those who were the recipients of that positive energy.

  • jon

    I had a physics teacher in highschool, he was the cool new teacher at the time.
    He too was some one who had gone off and had a job outside of teaching and then later in life (30’s) became a high school science teacher.

    It was his first year being a teacher and most of my classes 12th straight year of being students.

    I recall him getting a laser (he was very excited to not have to use the laser pointer another teacher had confiscated for his optics lessons and instead have something powerful enough to be seen even with the lights still on) with his supplies budget, he was super excited, and the class challenged him on how far it away it could be seen… after some goading he went to one side of the school, and we all walked to the other and held up a poster board for him to aim at…. we killed half of the period that day just hanging out at the far end of the hall.

    We did a unit on gravity where we tied washers to a string and dropped them in the gym, with the goal being to space the washers out so they would hit the ground evenly spaced.

    We played with hotwheels during the unit on friction, how high does the ramp need to be for each car to make it through the loop without falling, calculate the value, run the car through, and if it makes it on the calculated value, drop the ramp slightly to verify it doesn’t make it when the ramp is any lower. The math mostly worked out…. science.

    we also built trebuchets, he arranged with some one to have a very large one brought in and launched a honeydew melon out across the field behind the school… cause science collects its tribute in melons.

    He also gave us a final, that taught me an important lesson… .look at all the pages of a test before you start… he photocopied the answer key along with the test, so we all had a copy of the answers for 15 minutes before he told us to stop put our names on the test and hand them in…. where upon he tore off the back page of each of our tests and handed them back.

    Looked him up and he is apparently still teaching at that high school…17 years later.

    • // science collects its tribute in melons.

      Pretty sure you just won NewsCut comment of the day.

      • jon

        It’s an honor just to be nominated.

  • Jay T. Berken

    For my bachelor, I went into Elementary Education. When starting the core classes, I had to volunteer at a school. I was assigned a 2nd grade class which I would bring the top students to the library for a hour and go over a lesson with them. My first lesson was to go over a play, assign roles and then we would act in front of class. I started by reading the play with the students, and in the middle of reading, I started to flub up on some of the words which some of the students jumped on and proceeded to dance around the table and called me ‘bo-bo bear’.

    I stayed in the Elementary program, mustily out of hard-headiness, for another year before moving onto another major. See, I taught swimming lessons for six years and was use to students coming into my domain. That day, I went onto the students domain which I was uncomfortable with, and they smelt blood in the water. I didn’t have the classroom management skills, or presence, to maintain a classroom, much less for a full day, much less for an entire school year. Teaching is not for the meek being that one has to have not only the knowledge, but the skills to manage students of different needs and skills. And the biggest thing is that you have to be on. There is no going to the break room whenever you have a headache or going to a easy remedial task to ease your mind. Students are relying on you to lead them from task to task, much less the outside the classroom pressures of making growth and proficiency.

    My wife is a teacher and almost every night she is bringing work home to correct or to set up a lesson plan. Her working hours are not from 7am to 3:30pm when the students leave.

  • AmiSchwab

    Am I the only one who actually has good memories of my all my teachers? Minnesota Public Schools Cass of 1976.

    • jon

      ALL your teachers? Probably.

      Some or even most. Probably not.

      Teachers are human, and while I can’t speak for how many different teachers you had I had far too many for them to statistically all be engaged and good at their jobs.

      And some of them were disengaged… some of them seemed to actively have it out for me… I won’t go into those stories here and now (though I really do like telling the one about my freshman year english teacher…) because this seems like a place best left to celebrate the good ones rather than condemn the wicked ones.

  • Mitch Berg

    Both my maternal grandparents were teachers; my little sister is a teacher today. Heck, even I taught community college for a bit.

    And most of all, my father was a teacher – recognized by three generations in my hometown (including former Rep Ramstad, a student of his) as one of the best teachers ever. Even by me – he was the best teacher I ever had, notwithstanding how hard I had to work to get an “A” from; even he admitted he tried a little too hard to be impartial. He also taught education at the college level, and still helps monitor student teachers. He calls himself a political moderate, by the way, although I doubt he’s voted for a Republican since Ike.

    So there’s neither contempt for teachers nor ignorance about the job they do here.

    But public education is not the same as when you, me and Mr. C were kids, Bob. I’ve written at great length about my own arc, from public school supporter to stern critic and charter school parent (http://www.shotinthedark.info/wp/?cat=34). I think it’s perfectly fair to support teachers, but to see big problems in the *institution* of public education as it’s practiced today.

    But you don’t have to take my word for it. Get my Dad talking about the uselessness and depredations of the Administrative class on education, or on the priorities of the NEA, or on the bizarre shifts in the Education academy, and you’d swear that life-long center-left Democrat was a Ron Paul supporter.