Thursday, July 19, 2012

What Does it Mean to be a School Founder?

I’m drafting this in the sunset hours of a great man’s life. I am sad, grateful, and inspired all at once, indebted to this man, Mr. Gene Ehlers, for so much of who I am today. Grandview, the school founded by Mr. and Mrs. Ehlers, has been not only formative in my own life but truly transformative in the way I see the world and my place in it. And I am but one little piece of the “together” in the opening lines of our school creed, Together we build our future. How do we begin to thank someone for such a gift as our future?

My thoughts today have led me to wonder what it really means to be a founder of a school. As treasured moments in school life often do, one about the founding of Grandview emerged in response to a child’s striking observation of something illogical. A young student asked as we prepared to celebrate Founders Day, “I don’t get it...what’s the big deal about finding Grandview? It’s right here!” In that moment, it was difficult to explain to him that the “founder” doesn’t get to find anything! The magical part of founding a school is the creation of a place where others can find; the noble part is the relentless, unspoken generosity it takes to support it through its foundation.  

In founding Grandview, Mr. Ehlers created a place where we all feel united in spirit and shared values but where we each find something a little different. For me personally, I found the following while at Grandview:

  • my passion for teaching
  • a home and a family
  • the professional opportunity of a lifetime
  • my voice as an educational leader
  • my first real team, some of the best colleagues I’ll ever work with
  • a network of students who years later still call me Mrs. D
  • my best friend & mentor
  • the childhood chapters of my children’s lives

My children found their own treasures, again collections of who they are today.  At Grandivew, my daughter found her voice as a singer, more accurately, Grandview found it and helped her see it. At Grandview, she found her “siblings”, her best friends who despite distance have the sole ability to love and comfort in times of need. I asked my son what he found at Grandview.  Almost instinctively, he responded, “pride, happiness, friendship, leadership, knowledge and loyalty.” Only these, the most important elements of a successful life, simple treasures indeed.   

I have listed these treasures as they have occurred to me and our family today, but it would be wonderful for others to comment on what Grandview helped them find. Thinking back to that child’s inquiry today, I kept repeating, “What’s the big deal about finding Grandview? It’s right here!” Yes, yes it is. And we are incredibly grateful.


  1. Grandview helped me find my true potential. It helped me transform from a shy person into a dedicated and ambitious person. Most importantly, Grandview gave me a voice. Throughout the past thirteen years at Grandview, I have found people who are willing to improve my weak points and help me reach my pursuits. I treasure the loyalty of the Grandview community, the environment and most importantly its values. Thank you Mr. Ehlers for giving me not only a second family, but a second home. R.I.P Mr. Ehlers and Carpe Diem.

    1. Thank you for joining the conversation Jon. These are beautiful thoughts.

  2. It is a rare time when I have no words, but the outpouring of love has made me remember a time, at a Grandview event, where Gene quoted Oliver Wendall Holmes, "Many people die with their music still in them. Why is this so? Too often it is because they are always getting ready to live. Before they know it, time runs out." My father used this quote to point out that this is rarely true with teachers. He said, "teachers do not go to their grave with their best song unsung". He had so much respect for people who were passionate about their work. His gifts will live on in all of us- and in those we teach

    1. Truly inspiring sentiment and something I'll remember in trying to sing the best song daily--at least metaphorically as I'm not sure anyone would really want to listen to me sing everyday! I love this <3

  3. A school is an institution for the education of children.

    Grandview is a place that provides opportunities. Opportunities for children and teenagers to grow, mature and achieve. Many would say that these opportunities are available in many places, throughout life, which they are. However, there is no place like Grandview that catalyzes students to take these opportunities by encouraging students to do more than is expected of them, inside and outside of the classroom.

    It was outside of the classroom that I felt I grew the most in my time at Grandview. I truly believe that I am a different person because of Grandview and the opportunities it gave to me.

    I would not be who I am today without Grandview and Grandview would not be without the Ehlers Family. I cannot thank Mr. and Mrs. Ehlers enough for their vision and generosity in creating an institution for education that provides opportunities for children, teenagers and adults.

    May the memory of Mr. Ehlers live on in each of us as we continue to grow the Grandview Legacy that he started.

    1. Thanks for joining the conversation, Seth, and for your wonderful insights. You are right in saying it's quite a legacy and one which lives on in everyone who carries Grandview with them throughout the rest of their life's journey.

  4. Gene Ehlers gave the most amazing gift to all of us within the Grandview family. It is difficult to quantify for each of us, but we know it was huge. He is one of the most generous, gentle, and kindest human beings to have walked this earth. All of us who have been a part of his legacy are truly blessed. We can only try to emulate his behavior to honor him.

  5. When we attended the service today, we truly inspired by a legend who has made a profound effect on our family. Though we did not know him personally, the effect he has made on all of us, particularly our daughter, Evangeline, has been nothing short of amazing. We came here seven years ago and Evangeline was entering grade 2 in a new country, a new home. Grandview created her new place in her scholastic world. They nurtured her, they took care of her, they comforted her, they taught her and they introduced her to new "views." She took up interests that she did not knew existed before.... cheerleading, choir, Spanish, and in the last few years, very notably, singing with Mr. Yanette and dancing with Ms. Petronio. She is not a whining teenager but a budding partner in the gift of life. I believe that is what Mr. Ehlers wanted from his young flock. She left being withdrawn and alone to being happy and looking forward to the next step. We thank you "Grandview" because that is what you have actually introduced our daughter to (not a narrow view), thank you Mr. and Mrs. Ehlers, thank you Jackie Westerfield (for your guidance and eternal patience) and thank you to the wonderful teachers and staff at Grandview who continue to provide the care, patience and consideration to both our young people and their guardians. Please accept our sincere condolences on the passing of a wonderful person and human being. The Bedos Family