I teach at Bullard High School, and the school community received a blow several weeks ago when it became clear that one of my colleagues, Doreena Koopman, was losing her battle with cancer. This is my ninth year of teaching, and I have not known a time when 'Frau Koopman' was not dealing, in some way, with cancer. To a certain extent, her fellow teachers (including me) have taken the fact that she was dealing with cancer as routine.

But the week before we left on Spring Break, administration made a point of letting us know that Doreena, who had been out for weeks prior to that, would be coming back for one day to see her students, and that this was the last day she would be with us this semester. I made it my business to visit her that morning during my prep. I gave her a hug and said that I would see her again.

Well, not in this life. Doreena passed away on April 17th, and by her own wishes her remains were cremated. Her passing is the the subject of this article from the Fresno Bee. Last night, the Bullard community had a belated 'Celebration of Life' in the campus theatre and many memories were shared.

Frau Koopman was an intellectual in every sense of the word, the kind who read the New York Times Review of Books and had a breadth of knowledge unusual in a high school instructor. She was passionate about teaching German immersively, and was a campus leader on the subject of accreditation and providing opportunities for learning outside the classroom. I would imagine, however, that her students will remember her less for the ideas that animated her than for the way she interacted with them in the face of great personal difficulty.

Speaking of difficult, I can't write any more at this time. I'm still processing, still filled with mixed feelings. I will say this: on the subject of mortality, Roger Ebert has something serious to say that I will commend to anyone.

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