When Pam Meyer was teaching in her Fridley classroom, it was difficult to know who enjoyed the experience more, Meyer or her students.
“She made learning so fun that the kids didn’t even realize they were learning,” said Jane Stifle, a paraprofessional for eight years in Meyer’s classroom. Stifle recalled when the students were learning about the rain forest and were building one in the classroom. One child said aloud, “I wonder what my dad would say if he knew we played all day.”
Meyer died Jan. 15 at age 67 after a short struggle with pancreatic cancer.
Nancy Simoneau, of Menomonie, Wis., who was in her class as a first-grader and later student-taught under her, said Meyer loved to play a tape at the beginning or end of the day as a treat for students — not kids songs, but quirkier choices such as Jimmy Buffett’s “Cheeseburger in Paradise” or “Who Let the Dogs Out.” On the last day of the school year, she’d play “Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye.”
“The music started in her room, and as she walked the students to the bus on the last day many of them would be crying — and sometimes Pam, too,” Simoneau said. “Her energy, her laughter and her radiance taught kids to love coming to school.”
One of Meyer’s most memorable class projects was called the “Someday” book. Each student spent about a month writing and illustrating what they wanted to be when they grew up. Katherine Stevenson, who had Meyer as her third-grade teacher and is now a freshman at the University of Missouri College of Journalism in Columbia, dedicated her book to Meyer. “I wrote that I wanted to be a veterinarian, own a horse ranch in Colorado and mush my own team of huskies in Alaska,” she said, laughing. “She saw us as people first and then she taught us cursive and our multiplication tables.”
At her retirement party in 2007, many of Meyer’s students came back to share their “Someday” books. “It was amazing the number of people who fulfilled their own destiny and became doctors, artists, dancers or teachers,” said husband Terry Meyer of New Brighton.
After retiring, she continued to substitute teach and volunteer in various classrooms. Jennifer Meyer, who is married to Meyer’s son Chris, said her mother-in-law spent many Thursdays volunteering in her two grandsons’ classrooms. Grandma then brought them home after school to read and play.
“I would come home from work to find the bushes trimmed, my boys reading quietly, dinner already prepared and, more often than not, warm cookies on the counter,” said the Forest Lake resident.
Chris Meyer said his mom showed him that life is short so don’t take yourself too seriously. “It is important to love others, smile often and laugh hard, especially at yourself,” he said in his eulogy.
During the many eulogies given at Meyer’s funeral, person after person spoke about frequent laugh riots with Meyer. Son Pat Meyer of St. Louis Park said that his mom, his go-to polka partner, taught him to live life to its fullest. “Whenever I heard the accordions come alive over the dance floor speakers, I immediately went looking for her. We’d laugh until our sides hurt,” he said.
Meyer graduated in 1970 from Winona State, where she met Terry. In a paid obituary that ran last month, he channeled her spirit of fun by writing it from his wife’s point of view. “I married him [Terry] despite his many concussions and lack of common sense,” he wrote.
Meyer is survived by her husband, Terry, sons Chris and Pat, daughters-in-law Jennifer and Laura, and five grandchildren.