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A lesson on loving and living life to its fullest – every day
We learned today that Elliot Harvey has expressed his love for his wife Chris, his daughters Adrienne, Anna, and Allegra, and their families who have provided him so much joy – for the last time in person.
We learned that it is our turn to be there for others, our time to take care of the student or person who needs an extra check-in, our moment to think “what if…?”, and our opportunity to make sure that we find time to ski or hike that trail.
Elliot has now relinquished to us the challenge of teaching the perfect class – of encouraging, supporting, and pushing each student and colleague to be their best.
Elliot has demonstrated to his fullest how to climb every mountain, whether that be always pushing yourself in physical conquest, intellectual growth, or in our caring for others.
It is our time to do as he has shown us in looking for the beauty and best in every day, in every interaction – to look for the best light in every potential image.
Elliot has taught us the ultimate lesson in what it means to live each day to its best, to teach our students with care, and to love our family and our community.
Our thoughts are with Chris and his daughters – his girls that he loved and was always so proud of. Elliot taught me about love of family over and over again with pride as his family grew, and the esteemed grandkids started coming, and then family and friends surrounded him in these last challenging months. He loved – and he so appreciated your love.
And he leaves us a remarkable legacy – not one so much made up of accomplishments and milestones, but more as the ultimate trail map of what it is to be a passionate and caring teacher and learner. I was reminded of this very recently when Elliot and I were talking, and he was discussing his goals in the time that he had left. A key one – he hoped that he would have an opportunity to get together with his students so that he could thank them for letting him be their teacher this year. Again – he wanted to thank them for letting him be their teacher.
We are going to miss incredibly this man and his wonderful passion for teaching and learning – but we shouldn’t because he has given us so many lesson plans that we need to follow in so many areas.
Please do what Elliot would do. Be there for Chris, his girls, their family – and all those so many others that he made feel like family. Try not to languish in loss, but do something – for someone else – and for Elliot. Be extra patient with a student. Give someone a ride – physically or spiritually. Look for the joy and beauty in every scene and interaction – whether through a lens or more importantly in our hearts. That is how we begin honoring this man who tried to be better every day.
Hatch, Marr, Newberry, Rotenberg, Dockery – founders, and trustees – leaders who guided the School, and in the School’s modern history, Bill LaBelle (fortitude), Dan Shattuck (inquiry), Bob Harrington (fairness), Pam Blair (integrity), and now Elliot Harvey (growth) – those educators, those lions and lionesses, who each have enriched the lives of thousands of students and become key parts of the underpinnings of what a Winchendon education is.
Elliot Harvey has been an inspired and inspiring educator – one who has taught me more than perhaps any other teacher. While smarter than almost all that I have been privileged to work with, this is far from his most important attribute.
As we think of Elliot today, I urge you to consider four of his many incredible attributes:
- Growth mindset – even as the School’s most tenured and one of its most seasoned teachers, he was also one of the most willing to try new approaches. He became one of the biggest proponents in the early days of Global Dynamics, smath, alternatives to traditional math and science offerings, ColLABs, and new technology and photography techniques. In recent weeks we had a wonderful “what if” conversation about the possibility of the next evolution of our curriculum.
- Making the most of every day – when many would have been preoccupied with their mortality, Elliot taught us about living – making the absolute most of every day, the opportunity to be better every day, the opportunity to find joy in every day no matter how hard things get.
- Personalization – with an unmatched commitment to not just the most successful students but to really embracing and supporting those to whom the subject comes hardest. He challenges the BC calc kids. He inspires and cultivates confidence in the “I-am-not-a-math person” types afraid to enter the Algebra classroom.
- Family man – He adores Chris and the girls, Adrienne, Anna, and Allegra. His pride in watching and being able to work with Allegra as she has grown into a wonderful teacher on her own. And it isn’t just his blood family, although they are always first, but all of his other kids that he looked out for and who gravitated to him, the Harvington posse, Valentims, Frushells, the Russian or South Korean kids, or very importantly the students who didn’t feel confident making friends or fitting in. Elliot has been an amazing father figure and friend.
Thank you Mr. Harvey for being the ultimate teacher and student – for your commitment to always trying to look out for those students and teachers who need someone to be looking out for them – for providing all of us with the ultimate trail map of what it means to be a great Winchendon teacher – nurturing, challenging and supporting each of our students in being their best – and in turn, becoming better ourselves each day. Thank you on behalf of the thousands you have taught and cared for. I will always be appreciative of and inspired by all that you have done for so many in our Winchendon School community.
We will be getting back to you in the coming hours and days as to how we will honor Elliot Harvey together and celebrate his remarkable contributions and service to our community. In the interim, please do as Elliot would wish – “just be there for each other, be nice, go for a walk, and find something beautiful to take a picture of.”
June 7, 2022