Homage to Mary Ellen Ryder

Currently, we are in between Fall and Winter quarters.

I wanted to take a moment to tip my hat to one of the biggest and best influences on me as a teacher.   Interestingly enough, this is a woman I never took a class from, and sadly she passed away in 2008.   Her name was Mary Ellen Ryder.   Her influence and wisdom lives on.

Mary Ellen was a professor of linguistics at Boise State University.    In many ways, I grew up with Mary Ellen – when I was young she was one of my mother’s dearest friends and mentors.    I will always remember Mary Ellen as a woman surrounded by books, music, and friends.    She epitomizes the life I strive to live today:   when she was out of class, her attention to life was great;  when she was teaching, her attention to teaching and her students was even greater.   She regularly held weekend study sessions for her students on her own time.     She was patient with her students and giving of her time with her friends and family.

She was… an omnivore.   A data omnivore, a musical omnivore, a linguistic omnivore.   Her love of her subject showed to her students and her friends.   I can recount on any number of occasions where I would be involved in a conversation, and she would pull out her notebook and start to take notes…. I admired her curiosity, and tenacity.

She never lived her life small.   She took big bites out of everything.    With her huge laugh and a wonderfully quirky sense of humor,  I find myself asking myself “what would Mary Ellen do?”

Thank you, Mary Ellen.

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