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In Remembrance: Never a dull moment in Mrs. Vargason's class

BY STEPHANIE EDDY - seddy@idahostatesman.com

Published: 05/24/09

Students may remember Mrs. Vargason as a vivacious second-grade teacher whose tales of the Little Blue Elf and Little Black Goblin were legendary at what is now Mary McPherson Elementary in Meridian.

A runner-up for Idaho Teacher of the Year in 1975, her Idaho teaching career began in 1948 and spanned 40-plus years. She died April 11 in Boise at age 88.

Although she had no biological children, Valera "Val" Vargason loved kids and dedicated her life to teach and mentor her students.

"Valera was not only a skilled and inspiring teacher, she was a generous mentor to colleagues, sharing strategies, ideas and always her friendship," said Bette Boone, a colleague at Mary McPherson School. "She was perennially optimistic and positive, a fierce advocate for students, and zealous in finding ways to 'turn on' kids to learning."

Mrs. Vargason was full of surprises and always dressed in her "Irish Lassie" outfit on St. Patrick's Day, with her classroom glowing green from gelatin reflected on an overhead projector.

One April morning when students arrived for class Mrs. Vargason had vanished.

"We waited for what seemed like an eternity when we heard an alarm clock bell going off in the closet," said former student Peter Mundt. "Out stumbled Mrs. Vargason in a bathrobe, face cream, curlers and slippers, saying 'Oh my goodness I overslept! You didn't know that I lived in the closet?' It was April 1st."

Mrs. Vargason's teaching legacy lives on in the memories and lives of her students.

"She was an important reason why I became a teacher. The characteristic I remember most about her was her sense of humor," said Sandy Rosti Myers. "She taught me that you need to be a real person to teach and reach students. And that a sense of humor touches more lives than you realize."

Stephanie Eddy: 377-6481

In Remembrance is a weekly profile on a Treasure Valley resident who has recently passed away. To recommend a friend or loved one for an In Remembrance, e-mail seddy@idahostatesman.com.

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