I found out last week that one of my favorite teachers in high school, Cathy Knopp, died unexpectedly last week. It was hard for me to think about and process, because she had such a profound influence on my life. She was a great teacher - making English exciting and interesting.
She was also someone who took the time to get to know me as a person, not just a student, and who taught me to love theatre in all its forms, to be brave on the stage, and to not shy away from something that I loved so much.
She was the one who believed in me enough to cast me as the "Stage Manager" in Our Town when I was just a Junior in high school - not because I was there, but because she believed I could do it.
She was the one who labored with me when I sat in the teacher's lounge trying to cast my first show as a director, Little Women. She was the one who encouraged my choices and promised to stand by me.
She was the one who let me have a dream role, Beatrice in Much Ado about Nothing, as a Senior.
She was the one who encouraged me to learn everything I could about theatre in High School, and who enjoyed having me spend my free time in her classroom.
She was the one who cried with me when my father died when I was 17.
She was the one who taught me that Shakespeare was beautiful, that magic could happen on the stage, and that no matter who you are in your 'real' life, the possibilities on the stage are limitless.
She was a rare woman who invested 30 years of her life into a little school in northeast Indiana. She loved her students and believed in the good in everyone. She lived her faith quietly and clearly, never pushing it, but you always knew she was praying for the students she was teaching.
She will be deeply missed.
When I think of her, I automatically go to Shakespeare and his infamous "Seven Ages of Man" from As You Like It.
I know she wasn't through her "seven ages" yet, but her legacy will live through innumerable lives.
"All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages.
At first the infant,
Mewling and puking in the nurse's arms;
And then the whining school-boy, with his satchel
And shining morning face, creeping like snail
Unwillingly to school.
And then the lover,
Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad
Made to his mistress' eyebrow.
Then a soldier,
Full of strange oaths, and bearded like the pard,
Jealous in honour, sudden and quick in quarrel,
Seeking the bubble reputation
Even in the cannon's mouth.
And then the justice,
In fair round belly with good capon lin'd,
With eyes severe and beard of formal cut,
Full of wise saws and modern instances;
And so he plays his part.
The sixth age shifts
Into the lean and slipper'd pantaloon,
With spectacles on nose and pouch on side;
His youthful hose, well sav'd, a world too wide
For his shrunk shank; and his big manly voice,
Turning again toward childish treble, pipes
And whistles in his sound.
Last scene of all,
That ends this strange eventful history,
Is second childishness and mere oblivion;
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything."
— Jaques (Act II, Scene VII, lines 139-166)