Tribute to Our Friend and Colleague, @EdTechThatWorks Pam Cadwalder
Pam Cadwalder, @EdTechThatWorks
It’s rare that someone in this small world we call “ed tech” exits too soon and not of their own choosing, but unfortunately, this week, we will say goodbye to our friend and colleague Pam Cadwalder, who left us too soon. Her life was cut short by a wrong-way driver.
I’d like to tell my story of Pam Cadwalder (@EdTechThatWorks) in this form because I want it to be Google-able forever so that Pam’s contributions and passion for ed tech can never be forgotten.
I met Pam many years ago through our mutual affiliation with Region 6 ESC in Huntsville, TX. Pam was in the lead instructional tech role in Shepherd ISD, near my hometown. We hit it off immediately, and Pam allowed me to help her and her district transition to Gmail. It was only my second time assisting a district with this process, and I appreciated the faith Pam had in me to help her lead the way. More importantly than the work, I found a friend in Pam.
I never told her this, and now I wish I would have, but there was something about her facial expressions and her short stature and maybe something else I can’t define that reminded me of my Grandma. She had a way of wrinkling her brown in concern while smiling, and that was precisely an expression Grandma made, at me, a lot. I think I gave both of them a lot of shocks with my wild ideas, but they both supported me no matter what, even though maybe their faces said, “Ummm, that worries me! But I love you!”
Pam gave me permission to watch “Pretty Little Liars.” Both our girls were teenagers at the time, and she pointed out that they were watching it too, and we could talk about it with them, so why not? I watched a lot of stupid teenager shows after that with no apologies. And if I asked Pam, she would watch them too. No shame necessary!
Before friEdTech was anything more than just a name on Twitter, Pam, Jess Powell-Allbright, and I went to a Google Summit together in San Antonio. Driving back from that conference together, we birthed the idea of TxGoo, which later became the largest annual Google Summit in Texas. I bet Pam had that nervous smile, but she went along with it anyway, and we did it together.
On the way back from TxGoo in Frisco, TX, a couple of years later, we stopped to get gas, and Pam tripped over the gas hose. At first, we thought it was no big deal, but when she got back in the car, and we took a look at her foot, we realized that something was horribly wrong. We took her to the urgent care while she repeatedly assured us that she was fine, JUST FINE, nothing to worry about and nothing to see here! Well, turns out she was not fine. Her foot was very broken and she was in a boot for quite some time.
Pam ultimately decided to leave Shepherd ISD and serve through the Region 6 Education Service Center where I, thankfully, got to see her a few times and catch up. Pam supported so many districts in their instructional technology journeys in a caring, thoughtful, and respectful way. Everyone loved working with her. She never made you feel bad for not knowing a thing, and she was always glad to learn something new herself. Both sides of that are a good feeling to get from someone. Pam had a way with instruction: she made difficult tasks very understandable so that even folks who had trouble using a mouse could leave feeling like they were almost experts in whatever it is she was teaching them.
I’m really glad Pam had that way about her because she also had a hand in the name friEdTech. She told me, “Amy, I’ve always thought it was really cool how “Ed Tech” is there in the middle of friEdTechnology. I’m sure she could tell by the look on my face that I had never had that thought because I had never NOTICED that. Anyway, I told her, and the rest is history. That’s why the E and the T are capitalized, throat clear, in case YOU (like me) didn’t notice.
I would like to have taken the opportunity to thank her for her low-key but essential contributions to our niche field of education technology, especially in East Texas. Her brand of ed tech was just what people needed at just a time they needed it. She impacted hundreds of teachers, which translates to thousands and thousands of students, in her life. I will never forget Pam, and I sure wish I could call her today and shoot the breeze with her, find out how she likes retirement, and hear what’s going on with her two beloved children.
Rest in peace, my friend. You are loved, you are appreciated, and you will never be forgotten.