Saturday, February 17, 2007

Blogging a good word for Dick DeVos

Why, yes, I am running a fever, why do you ask?

Dick actually touched my heart with this gesture. And it was very classy of him to wait until after the election to announce it.

GRAND RAPIDS -- Dick DeVos was asked in last year's gubernatorial campaign if there was a teacher who had a profound influence on him while growing up -- and he said he knew the answer instantly.

DeVos on Thursday said he wanted to pay tribute to that teacher, Imogene Vader, by naming a restocked library at Grand Rapids's Alger Middle School in her honor.


DeVos, son of Amway co-founder Richard DeVos, donated $25,000 to buy more than 2,000 books for the Alger library. Heartwell said the donation was planned last year, but DeVos asked not to have it be announced until after the election.

"All of us have had at least one teacher who had had a tremendous impact on us, maybe in the classroom or outside. Maybe it was what they taught in class, but maybe it was a lesson in life," DeVos said. "The books in this library are tools, and it takes great teachers to use those tools and help children."

Vader, who died six years ago, was DeVos' fifth-grade teacher at what was then called Ada Public School in the Forest Hills district.

Her husband, Adrian Vader, was among the relatives attending Thursday's gathering.

"I was not exactly a straight-A student at the time," DeVos said after the ceremony. "And Mrs. Vader had such a great passion for learning. She knew how to encourage you to do your very best. And you knew where she stood on any subject. My hope is that this library will remind us of her, and of all great teachers."

I had Mrs. Vader for fifth grade also, and I can vouch for Dick when he says these things about her- every one of them is true. She was a dynamic lady who grabbed her student's attention and didn't let go. Some of my most vivid memories of elementary school come from her classroom- especially one on advertising, where we had to make up a product and then sell it, using graphic design, a filmed commercial, and, of course, printed words.

She might have been the one that taught me all about how to spin, come to think of it.

So, thanks go to Dick for donating those books in her name, and thanks go to Mrs. Vader for giving me the tools to deal with Dick. I guess it all works out in the end. ;-)