A good teacher is like a candle– it consumes itself to light the way for others. (MK Ataturk)
One quarter on “report card day” when my oldest son was in the 7th grade, he came bounding in the door with a big mischievous grin on his happy little face. “Guess what, Mom??!! DREW GOT A B!!” Nick’s joy was evident. I’ll admit, I silently chuckled to myself. Drew Thieme is now heading back for his sophomore year at Purdue in the fall and that “B” in Mrs. Cathy Cederholm’s 5th grade English class is STILL the only “B” he has ever received! Honestly, I have thanked our good and gracious God numerous times for that tiny bit of imperfection back in Mrs. C’s class because perfect is hard to maintain over a lifetime…and it’s not a fate I would want for any of my three boys in all honesty. For perfectionistic right-fighters like my smarty pants, Drew, ripping the band aid off early is the best kind of gift for a parent!
With only two days remaining in the SLDM timeline for the Thieme family, today I feel called to write about a truly fantastic teacher and even better human being named Cathy Cederholm. She taught both Nick and Drew during their time at SLDM, but she moved out of state a few years back so she never experienced the Z-man. Cathy started the first Mathbowl team at St. Louis de Montfort and she was a teacher who knew how to impart so much more than the basics– she is a teacher who makes sure kids are exposed to what really counts. Her positive, faith-filled influence on countless kiddos made a mark in the SLDM community that can never be erased.
A former Naval petty officer, Cathy also began what has become a truly meaningful Veteran’s Day tradition at SLDM. Each year, that event reminds me that I should be very proud to be an American! She was a teacher for my kids that really mattered because she set high standards for her students and wouldn’t settle for less. In fact, I vividly recall my oldest coming home one day in the 4th grade very upset about the grade he got on an essay answer in religion. He had apparently compared his work with that of a classmate and felt strongly that his answer was better…and yet his score was lower. I suggested that Nick talk to Mrs. C about his concern. The next day, he came home fairly miffed. “She said she expects my best work and this isn’t it.” I smiled and said, “Well, was it your best effort Nick Fred?” He quickly replied, “I’m probably able to write a little better than I did here, but it still seems unfair to me.” His work ethic improved.
Cathy also took his chair away from him and left him standing during class because, I’m sure, he was tipping his chair back or something of the sort. Mind you, Nick never mentioned this to me, but I had my inside sources. I am pretty sure that Nick knew better than to complain to me about such a thing. Cathy is compassionate, talented, sarcastic, and no nonsense. She was AWESOME for both my boys and scores of others. Good teachers are a treasure!!
When one of her former students became very ill and needed to sit out some school due to chemotherapy and other treatment, Cathy stepped in to help and was a constant support. There are SO MANY examples of her Christian witness to the entire community that I simply cannot do it justice here. However, knowing her as I do, I am certain that her integrity and faithfulness are doing for families in Virginia the very same things she became famous for at SLDM.
As the Thieme clan exits SLDM this week, it seemed important for me to let you know, Cathy, that your time, talent and genuine care has had a lasting impact for our family. You are a quality mom, wife, and teacher and we are all better people because you shared a bit of yourself with us. We feel truly blessed that our lives intersected with yours and we wish you, Dave and your kids so much happiness now and in the years ahead! THANK YOU for being a stunning witness of what it means to be a magnificent teacher and faithful Christian woman.