Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Peggy Oxley: Teacher, Mentor, Friend

We are all the teachers we are because of the communities of teachers we are part of.  I have always known how lucky I am to have landed in Central Ohio and to have become part of the community of literacy educators here. I cannot imagine teaching without the kindness and brilliance of our local community of teachers.

This week, many of us in Central Ohio and beyond, are heartbroken because we lost an anchor in our community. Peggy Oxley, incredible teacher, mentor and friend, passed away this week.  You can read about Peggy here--a lovely obituary that reminds us of all that she did and all that she was committed to in her very full life.
I can't really remember for sure when I met Peggy. She's someone that, once you meet her, you feel like you've always known her, that she's always been there cheering you on, supporting you, teaching you, learning beside you. I think I met her first at our fabulous local Children's Bookstore, Cover to Cover. We both happened to be shopping on the same day, which happened quite often:-) I think Sally Oddi introduced us. And then of course I knew her through attending the Literacy Connection events for years and then I became a member of the board and had the opportunity to get to spend more time with Peggy--to see the power in her kindness and belief in people and literacy and education.

If you've ever been to a Literacy Connection event, you know Peggy. Peggy is the person who has led this group for decades. Even before teacher-created professional development and inquiry were part of the work teachers did, Peggy knew that inquiry and community and professional reading and teacher agency were critical to teacher learning and she created a community around those beliefs. She brought together a group of people who were committed to doing the best work we could for children. If you live in Central Ohio, you have most likely benefited from her vision.

All that Peggy did, she did with intention and joy.  Which meant that the Literacy Connection events were filled with intention and joy. Which is why this group, under Peggy's leadership, has lasted for such a long time. It is a critical community of learners for so many of us. Not only did she create a professional community but because of Peggy, so many of us have become good friends--she built circles of friends wherever she went.

Although Peggy was very involved nationally, she knew the importance of coming together locally, of learning together, of thinking together, of friendship.  The Literacy Connection events are held twice each year and they are full of the best energy out there. Peggy's vision, her commitment to bringing the best speakers to Central Ohio and to yearlong study around classroom work is unique and so treasured.  I know personally, Peggy invited me into this incredible community of educators and gave unconditional support and love (professionally and personally) for decades. I know she did this for so many of us.

I have not really been able to process this loss. It is a hard time to grieve and many of us are sad that we can't be together, that we can't give Peggy the tribute she so deserves. I am heartbroken today to have lost a teacher, mentor, and friend.  I know that Peggy's legacy will live on in so many people, but really, I cannot imagine this world without Peggy in it.


  1. Well done ... her legacy certainly lives on in you. You bring people together personally and professionally. You lift people up and you inspire and connect so many. Sending you virtual hugs my friend.

  2. I felt an instant connection and friendship when I met Peggy in 2013 at NCTE in Boston. I wish I could have spent more time with her. You and all who knew her so well are lucky and can share more with the rest of us. It was a joy to call her a friend, she was kind, smart, devoted and inspirational. But still it's sad.

  3. I am so sorry for your loss. I'm sure this woman is one of many educators who serve as the hub for the grass roots teaching energy coming out of central Ohio. I graduated from UD 26 years ago and taught off Livingston Av in Columbus my first year before coming to Michigan. This location of the country is serving so many teachers with energy and support. I don't doubt that this one woman was part of that.

  4. Oh, what a loss! I met Peggy at (I think) NCTE one year. What a lovely, inspiring woman. I'm sorry for your loss, Franki, especially during these extra difficult times.


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