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Geil students say farewell to teacher
April 02, 2015 Jerry Purvis   

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Photo by Doug Harris/Gering Citizen - Geil Elementary third graders release balloons Monday afternoon in memory of their teacher, Kathy Keller, who passed away on March 24. Keller taught third grade at Geil for the past 39 years, inspiring generations of Gering children. Her teaching partner, Sandy Duncan, said the kids tied notes to the balloons with personal messages.

Dozens of multi-colored balloons took to the sky Monday afternoon at Geil Elementary School as students remembered Kathy Keller, a teacher loved by generations of students that have passed through the school. She died on March 24.

“She meant the world to us,” said Geil Principal Mary Kay Haun. “She was an excellent teacher and good friend to much of the staff. We have a family here where’s she taught three generations of their children. She touched the lives of so many people.”
Kathy taught third grade for 41 years, 39 of them at Geil. She turned in her retirement in February for the end of the year, hoping to enjoy her family at home and doing things she wanted to do.

Mary Kay said the idea of a balloon release came from the parents of one of Kathy’s students. “This is kind of a way to let the children release their emotions and remember what she meant to them.”

Sandy Duncan was Kathy’s teaching partner. Her students had many ways to describe Kathy, including “best teacher in the whole world,” “very kind to everybody,” “very graceful,” and “touched everybody’s hearts.”

“Kathy always had a smile on her face,” Sandy said. “She was very soft-spoken, kind and caring.”
Kathy’s students wrote little notes to her, which they attached to the balloons – hoping she will know how much her students cared.

“Some of us didn’t get to say goodbye,” Sandy said. “Writing a note is a way of saying goodbye and leaving a nice comment. We hope all the balloons go to heaven where she can read them.”

Geil teacher Beth Maser has been good friends with Kathy for many years. “I started teaching at Geil 13 years ago and eight of those years she was my teaching partner,” Beth wrote. “We were like two peas in a pod. We are both pretty laid back and we got along great. I will miss my good friend and cherish all of the memories of our good times together.”

The Geil staff also wrote a eulogy: “As we try to put words on paper, we struggle to make sense of it all, of course we can’t. So instead of asking why, we chose to remember Kathy as the beautiful soul she was with her positive, laid back approach to life. God had other plans for Kathy, plans that were out of our hands. We believe he had perfected her and her work here was done. She was supposed to retire in forty-one days after teaching for 41 years. God decided it was time for her to retire in heaven; a place we cannot begin to understand, but must know is greater than anything here on earth.”

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