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They'll remember Maxine Zimmerman

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Maxine Zimmerman was one of the first educators I met in Winnipeg.

She was principal then of Kelvin High School, and every few months Zimmerman would have a story to tell about the good things the school and its students were doing.

Maxine Zimmerman died Friday.

She was one of the first people in the school system who seemed to feel comfortable talking to me about public education -- really talking, after we'd done the interview and covered that particular day's story.

At the time I thought Zimmerman would be our kids' high school principal, and that pleased me. We lived in the catchment area, and she'd been principal at Kelvin since 1989.

Our kids had other plans, and Zimmerman was seconded to the Manitoba School Improvement Program in 1994, where she worked on innovative programs, often for at-risk kids, until she retired in 2003. She'd previously been principal at Argyle and R.B. Russell.

Today, relatives and friends will gather at noon at Temple Shalom at 1077 Grant Ave. to celebrate her life and share memories.

It's no surprise that there's a request that any donations be sent to Winnipeg School Division's Children's heritage Fund.

Pauline Clarke, WSD's chief superintendent, worked with Zimmerman for many years. "Ms. Zimmerman was a true educational leader. She was creative, held high expectations of staff and students and her enthusiasm for learning was infectious," says Clarke.

"Most of all, however, Ms. Zimmerman cared about each student doing those extra things that make a difference in people's lives -- providing support and encouragement which often helped students to stay in school or to overcome the challenges which affected them.

"For those of us who were her colleagues she listened, gave advice and offered suggestions (sometimes what we wanted to hear and sometimes not!)," Clarke said.

"Throughout her career there was never any doubt that Maxine valued education and the difference that education can make for each and everyone of us.

"She made a difference and she will be missed."

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About Nick Martin

Nick Martin is the old bearded guy at the back of the newsroom, the most experienced reporter at the Winnipeg Free Press, having started his career in Ontario in 1971.

He’s been covering education for the Free Press since the spring of 1997, after decades primarily covering municipal politics, including a four-year stint at the Ontario legislature for the London Free Press.

Nick moved to Manitoba in 1988 with his Winnipeg-born wife, who is a professor at the University of Manitoba. They have two kids, both of whom graduated from Grant Park High School: son Chris and daughter Gillian.

Nick has won a national journalism award from the Canadian Association of University Teachers, two Manitoba Human Rights Journalism awards, and the Ontario Reporters Association investigative award.

Nick is a long-distance runner, having finished and survived 18 marathons and 15 half-marathons and 30-kilometre races, and having (barely) survived 10 years as an outdoor and indoor soccer coach.

Nick became a soccer referee in 2007, delighting in his 60s in outrunning 16-year-olds and keeping his distance from obstreperous coaches and parents.

Nick and his wife have discovered a mutual love for kayaking at their Whiteshell cottage, and are both regulars at the Reh-Fit Centre. They hold season tickets to both the Manitoba Theatre Centre and the Warehouse, and as empty nesters, have rediscovered the joys of an active winter vacation.

A native of Jarrow-on-Tyne, England, Nick is a member of the Toon Army as a Newcastle United supporter, and a proud citizen of Leafs Nation.

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