Thursday, June 22, 2017

The Legacy of Dr. Ehrhardt

Guest Blogger:  Julie DeCook

Photo of Julie DeCookAt the retirement event for Drs. Schulte, Kelley, Ehrhardt, and Chris Wesling last Thursday, Mr. Garner spoke of one of Dr. Ehrhardt’s favorite questions: “What’s your legacy?” So as Dr. E enters the last two weeks before he retires, it is only appropriate that we share his legacy. Describing the true legacy of this man is not easy . . . because it is so rich. 

Dr. Ehrhardt has professionally raised many of us. He is a second father who has taught us, corrected us, challenged us, forgiven us, protected us, defended us, and loved us unconditionally over the course of many years--some of us over decades. He has made it a habit to push us out of our comfort zones, to never let us off easy, and to get us to stretch just a little bit more. At the same time, he has provided a space of safety by taking the reins when situations have escalated beyond our realms and by having our backs. Dr. E has shown us grace when we have messed up and been our biggest fan when we have achieved.

Photo of Dr. Kim Ehrhardt holding a string instrument from Finland
Dr. Kim Ehrhardt
The educators Dr. E has impacted in this way are many. At our recent Leadership Development Institute, as we did our “around the room” final remarks, nearly everyone in the room spoke of Kim’s positive impact on their development as a leader. Nearly everyone acknowledged that they wouldn’t be where they are today without him. When Dr. Schulte asked anyone who had ever been mentored by him to stand, about three-fourths of the administrative team stood. The educators on the administrative team are just a sliver of the many he has mentored, coached, and developed over his career.

Dr. Ehrhardt has taught us about the moral imperative to do whatever it takes to ensure every child learns. He has taught us that we have to pay attention to the social, emotional, and physical needs of children in addition to their cognitive and academic needs. He has taught us to pay attention to the students who need more challenge, the students who are struggling, and everyone in between. He has taught us that we cannot keep doing the same thing if we want different results. He has cultivated within us the hunger to always learn and always grow.

Dr. E means too much to us to come anywhere close to accurately capturing with words. None of us is really sure how we will get along without him, and we are in denial about him really retiring. However, Dr. E has already given us everything we need, and we will all pay tribute to Kim for the rest of our careers. We will carry his words in our minds, his love in our hearts, and his passion in our spirits. We will try to pass on to others what he has given us. To see Dr. Ehrhardt’s impact and legacy, watch what we do for kids.

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