By: Chris Faulknor, Editor
Laurie Howell, a long-time teacher at Boyne Falls Public School, died on Thursday, February 3rd.
For several of my high school years, I took her classes. The wide range of classes she taught included Web Design, Business Management/Administration, Legal Careers, TV Production, Business Service and Technology, as well as coordinating the distance learning classes enabling high school students to take college classes in Boyne Falls.
Most of my time with Laurie Howell was in my work done for the school. From eighth grade through my junior year, I spent countless hours working on the school website, repairing computers, and helping students learn the basics of computers.
I used to describe the relationship Laurie Howell and I had as a “love-hate relationship” – either we loved or we hated each other, there was often no middle ground. We were two stubborn, proud people, and butted heads often, often far more severely than either of us would have liked.
That said, it is water under the bridge, as they say.
It is a widely shared belief that what truly defines a person’s life on Earth is what they leave behind when they die. If that is the case, then Laurie Howell’s life was defined very well. As I scrolled down my Facebook wall this morning, it was clear exactly what Laurie Howell left behind. Posts popped up from students of years recent, and years long passed, all remembering what she taught them, even if they didn’t like it at the time. Quotes people remembered from their time attributed to their teacher turned up as well.
- “You truly changed my life and you were an outstanding teacher and friend. Rest well in Heaven, Mrs. Howell”
- “The truth is guys people are going to talk about you behind your back whether you’re in high school or fifty six years old. You just have to know you’re better than that, and feel bad for them that they have nothing else better to talk about.” -Mrs. Howell
- “She was the one to give you the push when you were scared to do what she knew we always could, she was always there to laugh with us, she was one of the greatest people i will ever know and now she is with god as sad as it is she isn’t with us to help the next generation and to continue to help us grow it is nice to know she will always watch over us”
- “Mrs, Howell, a woman of strength, courage and determination. You always believed in each one of us and never gave up. You took us on a trip to Chicago and I will never forget how much fun Mr. Garver, you and I had at the Modern Arts Museum. You taught me more about myself than a lot of other teachers did. You will be missed and remember a lot. I will see you in Heaven someday!“
- “I am so thankful that she showed us how to do job interviews because that has really helped me in the long run”
I often wonder what I will leave behind when my time comes. I know that Laurie Howell has countless students who can write a good resume, fellow teachers who know to keep their inbox clean to save space on the computers, and many friends who will hear a unique, genuine laugh from Laurie Howell echo through their minds for years to come.
Me? I will remember the teacher that wrapped a student in aluminum foil, sending them into the gym to sing “If I Only Had a Heart.” I will remember the teacher that donned a bright green vest and princess wand on the first say of school, declaring herself to be “Princess Lulu,” slowing taking the apprehension out of the room. I will remember the teacher that brought business people into the school to interview 9th grade students to prepare them for the business world, scrambled in a panic to see that every senior class had the infamous Powerpoint of school photos at their graduation, and laughed an unforgettable laugh as her students groaned to her turning on “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.”
It is a blessing to me that even though she is gone, the lessons learned from her will come with me. Her theories of the “business world” can be seen as I go around practicing what she called “positive manipulation.” I know in my heart that every one of her students has at least one of her many lessons to carry on.
To all who knew her, when you need to remember a teacher who would fight for anybody, remember Laurie Howell. Rest in Peace.
Chris Faulknor is the Editor of The Boyne City Gazette, and a long-time Boyne City native. His editorial column can be seen in The Boyne City Gazette each week.