This story was originally published in the Spring 2012 issue of Harker Quarterly
More than 500 students, teachers, parents, alumni and family members gathered in the Nichols Hall atrium March 10, to celebrate the life of Sharron Mittelstet. The much loved teacher, a 20-year veteran of Harker’s English department, succumbed to the debilitating effects of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease Feb. 2.
Steven Mittelstet, Mittelstet’s brother-in-law, introduced family, friends, colleagues and students who shared several reminiscences of her grace, wit, charm and perpetual enthusiasm. Steven Mittelstet read the words of Sharron’s daughter, Clare: “She was wildly, smartly funny … (and) her heart was immense.”
The event featured a performance by teacher Laura Lang-Ree who sang “Let it Be,” accompanied by colleague Catherine Snider and seniors Govi Dasu, Alex Najibi, Lauren Pinzás and Noel Witcosky. Seniors Jun Hee Lee and Devin Nguyen created a photo montage for the event, and Cantilena, directed by Susan Nace, contributed a recording of “This Little Light of Mine,” which was played at the end of the service.
Head of School Chris Nikoloff fondly recalled speaking to Mittelstet about Huck Finn. “She talked about Huck as if she knew him, as if he were one of her students,” said Nikoloff, who added Mittelstet “saw a uniqueness worth celebrating” in Huck much as she did the hundreds of students she wrote letters of recommendations for over the years.
Faculty members who also spoke included Butch Keller, upper school head, English teachers Stacie Newman, Steven Hewitt and Pauline Paskali and Spanish teacher Diana Moss. Surbhi Sarna ’03, Colby Rapson ’10 and Prag Batra, grade 12, also spoke to the large crowd. The event featured an extensive exhibit of photographs, classroom posters and letters from students. The exhibit was created by Paskali, Moss, administrative assistant Linda Brearley, teachers Chris Daren and Pilar Agüero-Esparza. Among the elements on display were the words of senior Neda Ghaffarian: “You have touched the hearts of many, and you will definitely live in mine forever.”
Sharron Mittelstet made a tremendous, positive impact on the lives of many children during her distinguished teaching career at The Harker School. In return, initiated by her husband, John Mittelstet, we are proud to provide scholarship assistance in honor of Sharron Mittelstet to motivated and talented children who would otherwise not be able to attend Harker. Families wishing to contribute to this endowed scholarship fund can make their checks payable to The Harker School in memory of Sharron Mittelstet. Contact the executive director of advancement, Joe Rosenthal, at firstname.lastname@example.org with questions. Your contribution will be invested in the associated endowed scholarship fund. Through this fund, Sharron Mittelstet will continue to positively impact Harker students in perpetuity. Those wishing to send condolences can send them to Lori Villarreal at loriv@ harker.org and they will be passed on to the family.