Educational leader left tremendous legacies

Within the past 12 months, the north country has lost three of its leading educators. Perhaps this is an appropriate time to reflect on their legacies.

Beverly Ouderkirk culminated a nearly 60-year career as teacher and administrator by serving on the state’s highest educational institution, the Board of Regents. What distinguished Regent Ouderkirk in my mind was that she always leaped at invitations to meet with students or teachers to learn, at the grass roots, what resources were needed to improve educational opportunities. At conferences, she could often be seen with a note pad in hand, listening rather than speaking.

Jim Shuman was a visionary; he directed the education department at St. Lawrence University for 25 years. At the time of his retirement ,SLU was clearly ahead of its time by training future teachers to conduct student-centered classrooms. Jim also was a lay minister, and he personified the qualities of kindness and caring that we all want to see reflected in members of the clergy.

Jim Berry enjoyed a successful career teaching science at Canton High School, and then he embarked on a second career as the engine that made the SOAR program successful for senior citizens. Jim, too, was a kind individual with a vision for helping to further educational opportunities for youngsters and older people.

What these three people shared was that each possessed the organizational and people skills of good leaders combined with an ability to earn respect just by being