People search the world high and low for a way to live forever, but often over look the simplest and most powerful of things; the written word. Words have power. They can start wars, but they can also end
them. They can bring ruin to a man or a nation, but they can also bring glory. They can be used to bring truth, tell of unfathomable beauty and express undying love. To have Robyn Ziessler live on, forever in the words of those dear to her, is the most powerful thing they could do.
There is a poem by Linda Ellis which reads “… what mattered most of all, was the dash between those years.” “That dash represents… the time she spent alive on earth and… those who loved her know what that little line
is worth.” These are the words of those who loved her, their memories of her “dash.” The following are from students at El Diamante; those who sat in her class everyday and learned from her.
“Mrs. Ziessler had a beautiful quality; no matter what the situation, she always had a big smile on her face. Her smile was like the sun, so extremely bright [that it] always brightened up the days of people around her. She will be deeply missed.”
– Muhammad Baig
“I learned how to be a world traveler. In my 45 years of living, I have always dreamed of traveling to Europe and seeing where my ancestors came from, but I would never have had the courage to do it on my own. Robyn not only took me there, but showed me how to interact, communicate and explore with confidence. Even though we were on a designated tour with a group, whenever we had free time she encouraged me to seek out the special places, sights and views that were of interest to only me, and go find them. I did just that, and have never felt so empowered in all of my life.” – Nicole Bitney
“Mrs. Ziessler was not just a teacher, but a friend to many. As a teacher she had the ability to drive us to do our best. As a friend she could always make you smile and feel like you deserve the best. She wanted us to succeed. At the end of my sophomore year I had forgotten to turn in my extra credit paper for a book report. I set it on her desk the last day of her class hoping she would still accept it , I had hoped that it would bump me up to an A, but I wouldn’t know my grade until report cards went out. The anxiety it was eating at me. Then, when I was cleaning up at graduation on the field I heard someone call my name. When I turned around Mrs. Ziessler was literally running toward me from a group of people. I smiled and shouted, “Hi, Mrs. Ziessler!” and the first thing she said to me was, “I got your extra credit! Brilliant! You have an A!” and she put her hands on both sides of my face and gave me a giant kiss right on my forehead. She was so excited for me and I am grateful to have had her as a teacher and friend. Although she as a difficult teacher, in the end I always came out of her class feeling like I had accomplished something. I thank her for giving me the push to do my best. Even though she won’t be with us in person this year in Europe, she will forever be in our hearts. Mrs. Ziessler you are loved and missed more than you’ll ever know.”
“Mrs. Ziessler was always such a positive influence not only on my life but with many of her students. I remember being in her class sophomore year when I first met her. I was thinking ‘this class [is] going to be challenging.’ Mrs. Ziessler always pushed us to our full potential to do the things we never thought we could make it through. When you did it she made you feel invincible, like you could do anything. Once you got to know Mrs. Ziessler not only as a teacher but as a person it really made you appreciate how much she really influenced you in different ways. She was a great role model, a [great] teacher and a beautiful person.”
– Jackie Santana
“I… always enjoyed being a member of Mrs. Ziessler’s homeroom since i switched to her class sophomore year since I transferred I continued to develop a strong bond with my classmates and Mrs. Ziessler she was always a positive outgoing and funny person whether we were in English or homeroom. One day in homeroom Mrs. Perez’s [class] came over on a reading day, my friend coughed while reading which set off a chain reaction of the entire class coughing. As we chuckled under our breath, Mrs. Ziessler said, “keep coughing, you’re losing points.” This threw the whole room into a frenzy of laughter. I could always count on Mrs. Ziessler to make me laugh. She [was] such a positive influence in my life and I’m sure many other’s lives as well. I’ll never forget the lessons she has taught me. She is been such an inspiration. I’m saddened to know that I will not continue to see her face when I walk into homeroom, but I know that she’s in a better place. The memories of her will remain with us forever. We miss you and we love you more than words can say.”
“To the students here who love her as much as I do, if you want to honor the memory of Mrs. Ziessler, go see the world, never stop learning, and find the joy in even the simplest of days. This is what Robyn did, and this is why we all love her so very much. I wish I still had time to thank Robyn for the joy and friendship she brought into all of our lives. I will love and remember her every day.”
– Tanya Perez
“My favorite memory of this Mrs. Ziessler was in our Europe trip in the summer of 2010. We were on a buss leaving a carnival in Austria one night. The bus driver turned on some slow jam 70’s American music and Mrs. Ziessler and our tour guide got up and started dancing up and down the aisle. They even took some of the kids’ balloon hats and put them around their waists, dancing wildly. I love this memory because it reminds me of how crazy and outgoing Mrs. Ziessler was and what an inspiration she was to me.”
– Sydney Stephenson
“Once upon a time I went to homeroom. It was homecoming week and everyone was dressing up, including all the teachers. As Joshua, Kassidy, Hailee, and I walked into Homeroom (on Royal Day) and we saw Mrs. Ziessler [dressed] in all green; clovers, shamrocks, the works. She wasn’t upset though; she thought it was funny that she messed up the days and refused to wear the same outfit the next day. Kudos to her for dressing up, bummer it was the wrong day.”
“Dear Mrs. Ziessler,
You have touched my life in no way another human has. Your constant bright spirit, enchanting personality and love of teaching has inspired me to be a better student, a better peer and a better person. You know you have been blessed with a wonderful teacher when you learn more about yourself and life rather than the subject itself. Not only did you increase my English skills but you acted as the best kind of role model. You encouraged my traveling passion and took me to Europe this year, where I had the opportunity to see you in your other element. Your unyielding love to explore the world will always inspire me as I pursue part of my heart as I write an essay, travel abroad, or see a flying butterfly. You were one of the kindest, warm-hearted, and fun people I have met- a person unforgettable. Thank you for coming into my life for a short amount of time and changing it permanently.”
“Driving to Mrs. Ziessler’s memorial service, I carpooled with a friend. I told her that the night before, when we made the flower arrangements for the service at Mrs. Thomas’ house, that I felt strange. I shared with her that driving home that past evening left me with an empty feeling, as if someone was missing. It’s like when you have a group of friends that always hangs out, and when one friend can’t make it, it changes the dynamic of the group. Well, our group dynamic changed without Robyn there. She was a great person to be around. And even though I only worked with her for three years, she made an impact on my life in that short span of time, as I know she did with so many other individuals.”
– Angelina Contreras
“I think that some of my favorite memories of Mrs. Ziessler came during the Christmas season. I know that this is one of her favorite times of the year, and as such, she had a desire to make something really special for the ladies in her family. I helped her learn to crochet, and as we were making scarves, we would chat the afternoon and morning away. Her optimistic attitude about everything, and her humor brightened my spirit each day. Her friendship is a real blessing in my life.”
“I knew Mrs. Ziessler for almost 3 years. As my homeroom teacher, my Honors English teacher and leader of the Europe trip I took, she quickly became my favorite teacher. I have always had great respect for her passion for teaching. If you were to ask any one of her students they would tell you how obvious it was that she loved her job. She poured her heart and soul into her job and that passion sparked a passion in me to become as good of a student as she was a teacher.
As hard as is been for El D to lose such a passionate, loving and inspiring teacher, I feel that we can take some comfort in the amazing impact she had here. Mrs. Ziessler preached positivity, instilled a desire for culture and travel in her students, and put a smile on each of our faces with her crazy stories and her amazing ability to laugh at herself. There wasn’t a day that went by where Mrs. Z didn’t poke fun at herself, or a few of her students for that matter, and for that I came to adore her.
Mrs. Ziessler, I will miss you so terribly, but I want to thank you for sharing your loving and adventurous spirit with this school. I know that you will continue to have crazy adventures in your next life.”
Robyn Ziessler was not a just a teacher to her students though, she was a teacher to her colleagues. She was their friend, an inspiration. “Robyn was an enormous part of my teaching life. It is not an exaggeration to say that we would talk ten times throughout the day,” says Tanya Perez, head of the English Department at El Diamante. “The conversations always started the same, “What are we teaching tomorrow?” We would leave that afternoon with what sounded like a great plan. However, I quickly learned that Robyn had a creative mind that worked best in, interestingly enough, the shower. Every morning she would walk into my room and say, “New plan! I got this great idea when I was in the shower this morning…” And it always was a great plan. As an educator, she was invaluable to new and veteran teachers alike. Many teachers here today will tell you she helped shape their career. Her willingness to create, share, and collaborate made her irreplaceable as a colleague. Her ability to infuse fun into everything she did kept us sane even during the most trying times.”
As a teacher, Mrs. Ziessler was more than just about the work. Perez also says that, “Mrs. Ziessler didn’t care if at the end of the year you could remember what a prepositional phrase was, or if you could still correctly diagram a sentence. She had bigger dreams for you. More than anything, she wanted to encourage her students to see the world and learn about the different cultures and the amazing history out there beyond our own borders. She started pushing her students on this journey through literature: the stories she chose to have you read, the ideas she asked you to explore.”
In the words of Angelina Contreras, an English teacher at El Diamante, “Robyn Ziessler was a dynamic teacher who found her calling later in life. She was an inspirational woman who was a loving wife, mother, sister, aunt, and grandmother. She made everyone in her life feel happy to be around her.” To Rebecca Jolly, also an English teacher at El Diamante, “She was an energetic, enthusiastic, person. She truly had a zest for life. She loved learning about new ideas and sharing them.” Another fellow English teacher, Nicole Bitney, “Robyn Ziessler was a mother, friend, teacher, and traveler. She believed that people, students of all ages, could learn so much about the world if they would only travel the world. Her goal was to take as many people on overseas travel as possible. Her passion was exploration through travel.”
In lieu of all this, what do we do to honor those who have gone before us? Do we forget them because it hurts to much? Do we take the good and the bad memories and lock them away? Or do we remember the good things, the favorite memories, the laughter and the tears of joy? Is that not the best way to honor them – to live our lives knowing who they were and what they stood for and living as they did?