In every way possible, Nancy Dickinson was an inspiration to children, a valued friend and colleague, and an enduring spirit in a foreign land. The words of those who cherished Nancy are gathering now in our hearts and minds as we received news on the weekend of Nancy’s passing following a year long struggle with cancer.
From Nancy’s family on the weekend:
Nancy left us about 2 pm our time. It was very peaceful. Carl and I were with her. We told her she could go, that she was loved by so many people and we named names and locations! The fight here was done and we reassured her that we would take care of Caroline.
Please take care of yourselves. Tell your loved ones you love and adore them. Hold our beloved Nancy in the light and say a prayer of Thanksgiving for having known this lovely woman. Her suffering is over. She is truly free and having a wonderful reunion with our Grandmother and family.
Yvonne & Carl
While we knew that Nancy was in the final stages of her battle after moving to hospice care a short time ago, two staff members visiting her and family in Montana found in Nancy the same spirit that likely carried her to her final breath. Joyce Husick and Tanja Kusanovic represented all of Nancy’s loved ones here in Warsaw by carrying cards, messages, and greetings to Nancy during her final days. They noted upon their return that Nancy retained “that which was wonderfully Nancy – wit, sense of humor, and keen perceptions all on display.” She was clearly in the midst of those who loved her dearly, enjoying every minute in a circle of trust and care.
Nancy served the American School of Warsaw from 2002-2015 as a Kindergarten, 3rd, and 1st grade teacher. All who knew her remembered her warmth and kindness. Memories of Nancy are being shared via many communication platforms in the coming days in hopes of capturing the thoughts and inspirations of her life and time here in Warsaw and throughout the world. The shared document can be viewed HERE, our virtual wall of memories that grows with each passing hour.
Counselors have asked the library to gather resources for children and families on the topic of grief and, as always, they stand by for those who need to talk about the loss of Nancy. Nancy had a positive impact on many young lives and families have already started reaching out to us with memories of their own through expressions of love and sadness for this loss. I encourage you to engage here as a comment on this blog to share your memories, which we will add to the compiled document of memories.
At the time of writing this message, we had not received word from Montana with regards to plans for services in her home there. We are asking members of the community interested in attending to join us for a memorial gathering in the Elementary Tower on Monday, October 17th at 3:30 p.m. Adults and children are both welcome. We look forward to this opportunity to remember Nancy in the environment where she made her most significant contributions. Please join us!
With fondest regards,
Jon P. Zurfluh
18 thoughts on “We celebrate the life of Nancy Dickinson”
I remember Nancy fondly from my days in the Elementary School Office, and I am profoundly saddened by the news of her passing. How wonderful that Tanja and Joyce were able to visit her in Montana to deliver all the messages of love, and to say farewell on behalf of the ASW family. So many hearts are breaking….
All of the amazing out-pouring of love & sorrow expressed in this beautiful website shows the depth of the legacy you have left in the hearts of all of us who had the privilege of sharing life’s path with you! The love of your family, friends & colleagues reflect your spirit & beauty of the person you are! Your devotion, commitment & dedication as a teacher was always so visible upon each visit to your classroom! Your warm & welcoming smile was always seen upon entering the vibrancy of your classroom in the joyful learning environment you were always able to create. The ‘love of learning’ abounded within each child you taught! You made each day, every visit a fun and an exciting experience always leaving me with a “wish I were a student in Misss Dickinson’s class!”
Thank you for your wonderful years of teaching and sharing your love, care and kindness to all whose lives you touched! You truly were & will be a “lighthouse” for all of us ‘lighting the way’ of your many friends and family with the lessons of life you have taught us! You will be greatly missed by all of us and especially those fortunate enough to continue your legacy of teaching & learning at ASW! Love & condolences to all who now carry Nancy in your heart & spirit! May she Rest in Heavenly Peace!
Nancy was my eldest son’s (now 13) 1st grade teacher and she was one of his favorite teachers of all time. She had high expectations for the kids, but that was because she knew they could do it. Even my youngest son could be found “hanging out” in her classroom at times when he was in 1st grade even though she wasn’t his teacher. She was truly a wonderful bright light at ASW and will be greatly missed. We are so grateful that she was a part of our lives.
We send our condolences to her family and may she rest in peace.
Noli Embradora former Assistant to Nancy- I remember myself going to get a new teacher in Kindergarten I knew her name even before I met her, and I am wondering if she knew mine. We broke the ice in few weeks after our meeting. I found her straightforward and professional to work with. Although she was new to the school and trying to adjust to her new home I could feel her enthusiasm of being part of ASW. She was a hardworking woman, and could be privy, but always open minded. We also found out that we are both Capricorn and our birthday have three days apart hers is 5th of January and I have 8th, so we decided to celebrate our birthday in the class at the same time. We got separated because of the cut of numbers in early childhood, but we keep greeting each other each year. I shared few laughs with her I am sure of it, but I can’t remember when and what is the occasion, she mentioned to me about her daughter Caroline, about living in Maine and a place where a lighthouse stood. I can vividly recall it, but not the name. Many have said about her, and I couldn’t agree more.
“In life like a lighthouse, she lightened the path of many children aboard the ship I called classroom, and she became friends to many of us. I will remember her until my time leave its passing, and If she is having another journey I believe her path is shining and clear. Godspeed.”
I had the privilege of working with Nancy for five years in both kindergarten and third grade at ASW. Not only was she a kind, generous and very effective and caring teacher, she was also a valued colleague. Collaborating with Nancy was always productive, focused, enjoyable, and centered on what was best for student learning. I still remember the two of us getting very excited as we “revolutionized” show and tell in our kindergarten classrooms. She had a wisdom and knowledge about young children that she used so effectively with her students. I’d like to share an example. One day I was in the classroom with Nancy when a student approached. Nancy asked him a question about some topic and he said, “I don’t know”, a common phrase uttered by many a student. She expertly and adroitly said in her understanding, empathetic voice, “Oh that’s okay if you don’t know….(then she paused and asked quizzically)…..I wonder…..if you did know…what would you say?” Sure enough the young boy shared his thinking and understanding about the topic. I laughed, and Nancy turned to me and smiled, ” It works more often than you would think!” I have used that trick with students so often since that day, and have shared that wisdom with many colleagues since. Nancy….your words will continue to encourage children and facilitate learning. But we will miss our friend and trusted colleague.
Nancy was very dear to us all. Her sense of humor was ever present. She always found a way to see the funny side of any situation.
Nancy was a teacher whom I admired greatly. She loved her children, thought about them as a whole child, and strived daily to teach them in the best manner possible for their health and well-being. She loved reading, and was a fabulous reading teacher. I taught second, third, and fourth grade during my time in Warsaw. When I would get one of Nancy’s students, she would always come and tell me wonderful things about her former students, and a hint or two as to how best meet their academic, social, and emotional needs. She was always there for her children.
I also admired Nancy as a person who set goals in her life, and took the steps necessary (literally) to meet those goals. Her most admirable goal of making the Camino de Santiago Pilgrimage was met as she traversed by foot across Northern Spain over three different summers. She had also begun to walk “The Camino” from France, making great effort to learn to speak French, and to involve herself in the French culture through cooking and wine tasting. We all looked forward to Nancy’s return each summer because she would bring intriguing stories to tell, a few new recipes to try, new wines to taste, and even empty water bottles she loved for their design and shape.
One of the best times I ever had with Nancy was when she helped the book club plan and take a trip to Sarajevo to follow up on a book that we had read. Of course, we attended all the sights in Bosnia & Herzegovina from the book, and added some new history, as well. Directed by Nancy, we spent a long time in the bookstore in Sarajevo, and we all came home with 2.5 inch books to read about it’s history.
I will miss Nancy very much. I will remember spending snowy evenings in her brightly-colored, inviting and cozy apartment drinking warm tea or red wine while engaged in reflective and growth-promoting conversation.
Our dear Nancy is a great loss for all of us. However, I am glad that she is no longer in pain. I release her to go on her next journey with heartfelt thanks for knowing her, and with a blessing of love and gratitude for her spirit of kindness, adventure, and her great sense of humor.
Nancy was a wonderful colleague, friend, and human being. She will be missed by all who knew her. Rolf and Beth
Rest in Peace, Ms. Nancy Dickinson. You were an amazing teacher to my daughter Teresa in 3rd grade. I will miss your smile which warmly greeted me whenever we met at the hallways and the cafeteria. Thank you. Your memory will live on in our hearts.
I had the opportunity to get to know, admire, and respect Nancy over the past 12 years we’ve worked together at ASW. Nancy was a mentor to me as she was always willing to listen to my concerns or questions and offer her brillant ideas and sound advice. We not only taught third grade together, our classrooms were also reading buddies for several years. I loved this, because it meant Nancy and I would get together afterschool and plan those meetings, creating relationships for children to support one another, and in the meantime we would find ourselves visiting, too. Nancy loved teaching and serving others and we’d often find that this love would keep us at school past dinner time. I will never forget our laughter as we were making icing into the night for our children to make candy houses at the Winter Party. We were mixing and mixing and mixing and laughing at ourselves for our ambitious plans. I will also rememeber her fun ideas for celebrating others, for example, making hair scrunchies as a favor to hand out at Heidi’s baby shower. I feel blessed that for the past decade I have celebrated Thanksgiving with Nancy as she was a part of my Warsaw family. I will miss her great cooking. I will miss her stories. I will miss being able to pop downstairs to share a concern. I will miss her smile. I will miss her laugh. However, I will forever be grateful, for Nancy will always be with me, in my heart and memories.
Rhonda and I are very saddened to hear of Nancy’s passing. We arrived in Warsaw with Nancy in 2002 where we were “newbies” together. We have fond memories of Nancy’s warm smile, gentle approach with children, sense of humor, and overall kindness. Peace.
I joined the ASW faculty in 2007 and only had two years there, sadly. However, Nancy always encouraged me to share in conversation and made me feel part of the family. Her wealth of experience knew no bounds and she was always happy to share her insights. I can only imagine the loss felt by those celebrating her life tomorrow. My prayers will be for each of you to carry her torch and for comfort. Prayers for her family. What an angel you have looking over you.
I knew Nancy for eight years as a colleague and friend at ASW. She also stayed with me in Portland during some of the summer breaks so she could be near her daughter, Caroline. I will always remember her as a very special, unique, strong, adventurous, fun-loving person, and her memory will always be with me. Rest in Peace.
I always respected Nancy for the learning that happened in her classroom. I enjoyed visiting on my walkabouts because her students were happily engaged and productive. She also made many contributions beyond the classroom with her team mates and others. Nancy was also one of the people I would go to as a sounding board, to consider decisions or to reflect on them. She could step back and look at things from a bigger perspective, and I respected her feedback.
I will always remember making Nancy the offer to come teach at ASW. We were having breakfast in the restaurant at the Hyatt in Cambridge (Boston) at the recruiting fair, and she jumped up and down, clapping her hands, saying, “I’m going to Poland!” She was so happy.
I am glad she had a visit from ASW friends before passing. Rest in peace, Nancy.
Jim Laney, ES Principal at ASW, 2002–2005
Thanks for meeting in Poznań. I remember association with Emily Dickinson. Peace and Love.With Prayer.Katarzyna
There are so many things that I appreciate about Nancy the person and Nancy the teacher. She was a kind, thoughtful, adventurous person who was both interesting and interested. She was the teacher that you’d love to have your child with. She had a true heart for children and they all knew it. Nancy’s compassionate, gentle, and loving spirit will live on through the lives of those fortunate enough to have come into contact with her.
Having just heard about Nancy’s passing recently, the above comments are comforting as I remember the friendship she and I shared. I first met the essence of Nancy in 1974 while being a substitute in her classroom at the Central School in Wilton, Maine. As I recall, she had a little “store” for her students to run, and for me, it was like I had stepped into their world of learning and play.
That fall when I became a teacher in the nearby middle school, our friendship connected via a Friday morning breakfast where a few of us teachers would begin our day together, a routine we continued for several years. As our paths went almost in parallel, from central to southern Maine, we met to discuss and giggle about children, our own and our students, our travels and life goals. You might say we exchanged enthusiasm, urging each other to explore our need to help children to learn.
Nancy was one of those “constants” in my life, and no matter where I located, she seem to find me and pick up the sharing regardless of time or distances. I remember her trip to Cambridge, Jim, and her excitement about going to Poland. Those first photos of her apartment and the images of finding her way around Warsaw remain with me. She was far more courageous than I, and her gracious sharing made me want to visit her there, which, regretfully, I never did. To her ASW colleagues, your sharing enriches my memories, and I am grateful.
When my daughter was preparing to walk The Camino, Nancy was more than willing to share travel tips with her. When my son entered college, Nancy presented him with a portfolio tube, the most thoughtful of gifts. When I showed career frustration, she encouraged me to make changes so I wouldn’t lose my soul, as she put it. Nancy prepared for her journeys through life, carried curiosity and compassion, and as Nicotine remembered above, we now can consider Nancy’s question, “If you did know, what would you say?” Well, Ms. Dickinson, my friend, I don’t know, but if I did know about the afterlife, I’d say you are traveling forward, with childlike wonder and soft giggles. Happy travels, Nancy, thank you for the many gifts you gave.
I just found this. I didn’t even know it existed. This is Caroline, Nancy’s daughter. I wish I’d known I would’ve thanked so so many people for their kind word about my mother. I felt such a random sense of loss tonight and decided, of all things to google her, to see if she still existed somehow…somewhere, and then found this. Thank you. Thank you so much for this. Thank you for your love and kind words. I’d write more but honestly I’m a bit teared up. I can’t express how much this truly means to me.
Mrs. Dickinson was my 1st grade teacher. I remember her reading “Apron Strings an Rowdy,” knowing it so well that she could recite pages of the book missing due to heavy usage. She inspired me to do well at school, constantly saying, “Gus, you’re coasting. Try harder. You’re like a roller coaster that isn’t going up any more and will soon start to go down.” Once, we had to do a report (more of a picture, but it was pretty big for a first grader) on insects, and I wrote about ants. When I turned it in, she pulled me aside, and said, “Gus, you’re coasting.” She called a friend of mine over. “Tristan’s work is so detailed. He is working hard. You need to try harder.” I didn’t think I was coasting, but I was never told I wasn’t trying hard enough ever again, so I must’ve changed my attitude. Her words still motivate me. Oh — by the way, she owes me a million dollars. When we were learning about vowels, she offered to give the windfall to anyone who could find a word without them. I was stumped until very recently. Finally, after years of searching, I found it: crwth. I wish she could know I am thinking of her.