I have used this space before to praise the efforts of educators on all levels. I have shared stories of teachers who made a difference in my life and in the lives of my children. Simply put, I cannot think of a more laudable occupation. Those who impart wisdom, who encourage and nurture a love of learning, are the true backbone of our society.
While all teachers are important to their schools’ community, some — through passion for their subject, sincere interest in their students’ futures and willingness to be so much more than just the person standing at the front of the classroom — play integral roles in the lives of their students and their students’ families.
Chris Rainer was one of those special teachers.
Rainer, the assistant band director at Gilbert’s Mesquite High School, died Wednesday after an early morning car crash. The Tribune’s Hayley Ringle reported that upon news of Rainer’s death, parents came to the school to pay respects and comfort their children. That’s what we do when someone in our family dies — we embrace one another and try to console those who are sharing our pain.
I never met Chris Rainer. Nor have I ever met one of his students. But I have gotten to know a little about him and those who looked up to him by looking at comments from readers of Ringle’s story posted on the Tribune Web site, www.evtrib.com.
Students past and present, Mesquite parents, fellow teachers and others have painted a picture of the man with their memories of his happy demeanor, tales of his impact on Mesquite’s band program, compassion for his students and condolences for his family. The glowing tributes are brief, but sincere and heartfelt.
The Langley Family posted: “A quote by John Wesley reads, 'Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can.’ That really sums up the way Mr. Rainer lived his life.”
From Arlana Tomlinson: “(Rainer) was my band teacher my senior year. He is the whole reason why I am still playing in band and I’m a junior in college now. I am over a thousand miles away and it pains me deeply to know that one of my favorite teachers has lost his life.”
MHS Parent commented: “Such a tragedy to lose such a young and vibrant teacher. There is a (hole) in many people’s hearts tonight. God bless the family. May your sorrows be somewhat comforted knowing how loved and respected your beloved Chris Rainer was by so many. He truly impacted so many lives in his short time on this Earth.”
And from Freshman Band Student: “Soon after I learned all of it, I never knew how close a school could come together just because of one person.”
In reading through all the comments, it was evident the impact that one caring teacher can have on a large number of people. And it made me wish that I had met the man who made such a difference in so many lives.