One year. 52 weeks. 365 days. These numbers reflect the time that has passed since Dr. Kristen Stauffer Todd left this earth to her real "home." In the past 365 days I have watched an entire community, my tribe, my people that I have done life with through the thick and thin mourn her loss. I have been lucky to have had a legacy of educators pour into my education, but none is more prolific than the life of this amazing woman.
When I first came to Oklahoma Baptist University as a Freshman, I thought I knew it all. I was quick to find out that was not the case. I need someone to set me straight, someone that would offer me guidance, that someone was Dr. Todd. I find it funny that while I enjoyed a good cup of coffee just in the mornings, her influence over me quickly reached to coffee anytime of the day! I remember sitting in her class and remembering just how engaging her lessons where, how we were all a captive class. And for college students, more importantly college music majors captivity a group of the biggest walking talking ADHD advertisment was no easy feat! She was brilliant. And the beauty about her and about her teaching was that it simply was not about her, it was about the students that she was teaching. Dr. Todd taught us more than just Music and Art History. She taught us how to be better people. She knew that her successes with us would lead to successes in our own classrooms, our own churches, graduate classes, ensembles, opera companies, and so much more. She saw beyond the group of individuals sitting in front of her. She believed that we were all brilliant. She believed that I was brilliant. She told me every chance she could that I was brilliant. And there were days that just hearing those precious words made all the difference. When I was stressed or to a point that she knew that I was going to break, she would invite me for coffee, we would talk and then she would tell I was made for this and that I was brilliant.
The last time she and I had coffee was just a few days graduation. I was watching so many of my classmates talk about the jobs that they had just found out about or the grad schools they were going to, and I didn't have a clue. I had no job. I had no plan. I was freaked out. Dr.Todd told me something pretty amazing "There is a group of students out there that need you more than you need them." This is why she was brilliant. Because she knew that there was a group of students out there that needed her more than she needed them. Brilliant.
KST, I hope that I have made you proud. I hope that you laugh when I ask a room full of middle school kids "questions, concerns, or traumas," I hope that my students get to experience a small of part of you through my teaching. I promise that I will make sure that they all know that they are brilliant. One year later, it still doesn't seem real or fair that you aren't here. But oh how I look forward to that coffee one glorious day. Thank you doesn't seem big enough.