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Our View: A teachable life

What sorts of things would you think about after learning you'd been diagnosed with stage four pancreatic cancer? Here's what area educator Craig Lindvahl said this week when he talked about his diagnosis for what he called an insidious disease:

"I'm at peace with everything. I'm happy on the inside. I want to use this as an opportunity to teach, to make people better, to help them understand what's important in life. What matters. That's what I want to use with whatever time I have left."

That tells you something about him. The comments shared on social media after the Effingham Daily News wrote about Lindvahl's diagnosis are also telling:

"You are a true inspiration Mr. L. Sending healing prayers and good thoughts! Thanks for all the life lessons you taught me."

"Craig is such a great person and extremely valuable asset to our community and educational system. He continues to inspire persons of all ages."

"I was a member of the band at T-Town his first year there. The first day I couldn't stand him. The second day he became my favorite teacher ever. Thank you Mr Lindvahl for being such a inspiration!"

The list of all the ways that Lindvahl, 57, has made our community a better place over the decades is a lengthy one. A longtime teacher and band leader in Teutopolis, award-winning filmmaker and creator of the CEO entrepreneurial program, Lindvahl was named the EDN 2015 Citizen of the Year in January. In February, Gov. Bruce Rauner tapped him for a seat on the Illinois State Board of Education.

Even though Lindvahl begins this week on an aggressive course of chemotherapy treatments, he says that he'll try to continue with as many of the projects he has on his plate as he can. Forgive him if he eases up just a touch. In the past three months alone, he's logged more than 20,000 miles traveling around the country promoting the CEO program.

Educators often talk about "teachable moments." Lindvahl has stepped far beyond that. He's lived a teachable life. Now he's demonstrating how those moments can continue even in the seemingly darkest of times. Lindvahl called reporters to his office in Effingham on Monday to talk about his plans.

"Here's the thing, if people don't hear it from me, they only get a chance to be sad," he explained. "If they hear it from me, they go, 'He's OK. He wants me to be OK. He wants me to do something important with my life.'"

It's a lesson for us all.

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