Friday, October 17, 2008

Remembering Kalpna Mistry - By Candice Meyers

The following was said at Ms. Mistry's Berkeley International High School Memorial on October 16, 2008:

Our family connection to Kalpna started with her last name. In those first weeks of freshman year, our daughter came home really excited about her new global studies teacher, Ms. Mistry. To my untrained ear, it sounded like “Mystery.” Who was this mysterious Ms Mistry? We wanted to meet this woman!

So on back to school night, I got there early to see this mysterious first period teacher. When I walked in, no one else had arrived. It was just Kalpna and me. And instantly, I experienced something that I know many of you have felt: I had found a new best friend. She was so warm and so caring about my daughter that she made me feel like she could really see what was special about my kid. As a parent, who doesn’t love that in a teacher?

As the year rolled on, I worked with Kalpna on field trips and speakers and I started to see that she uncovered that special core in each of her kids. On one field trip in particular, she convinced a bunch of kids to compete in a health issues debate over at SF State. Let me just set up the picture. We had to leave at 6am on a Saturday morning. That’s 6am. Now I knew a lot of these kids. 6am and these kids rarely went hand in hand. But when 6am rolled around, they stoically crammed themselves into the carpools because Ms. Mistry asked them to do it. Later, as I sat there in a crowded auditorium watching the awards ceremony, I was really watching Kalpna. Every Berkeley High kid who was honored immediately looked at her. It was almost as if each was saying: “Hey Ms. Mistry, I did this for you.”

So when the phone rang last August, needless to say, my entire family was crushed. We had lost a best friend at Berkeley High. We felt that close to her. And, as I talked with a lot of other parents, they all told similar stories: about working with Kalpna on events, about receiving great emails from her or an evening phone call telling them not to worry about their kid. It became clear to me that the only mystery about Ms Mistry was how she did it….how she made us all feel so special when there were so many of us and only one of her.

So tonight, as we sit in this crowded auditorium, I feel like one of those kids at the Health Debate at SF State. Ms Mistry has done so much for so many of us that I think it’s important to hold her memory dear and most important: remain inspired by her passion and say: “Hey Ms. Mistry, we’ll do this for you.”

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