Tracy Mork, who energetically led students into the world of technology for 20 years, passed away Monday. She was 44.
Two years ago she was diagnosed at Mayo Clinic after strength was being lost in her arms and legs. It was suspected that she had Lou Gehrig's Disease. Not wanting to accept the diagnosis, she went on to other doctors who believed her weakness and eventually immobility was due to compressed vertebrae that she may have received in a fall. She has worked extra hard to bring her health back and friends say she was making progress.
She had not taught since the first semester last fall, not by choice but due to her health issues.
She leaves behind her husband Tom and children Camryn, 12 and Keaton, 9, hundreds of students, a huge circle of friends and many loving family members. The Morks reside in Storm Lake while the children attend Alta schools.
Her many co-workers reflected on their friend.
Sports, and competition, were huge to Tracy. After graduating from Storm Lake High School in 1984, she went off to Buena Vista University, majoring in health and physical education, always concerned about children's health.
She and athletic director Terri Zimmerman had a summer swim business together for some time, spending countless hours and laughs in the pool together.
She came to work at Alta as a teacher's associate for special needs students. Her talent for teaching was apparent, said friend and fellow teacher, Deb Langner.
After developing a great interest in technology administrators at the school decided to set up a computer lab and hire Tracy to integrate technology into the Alta curriculum. For years she taught elementary and middle school students the basics, keyboarding and projects for their classes in many different programs. She loved the technology and the kids.
In 2001, Langner said, thanks to Tracy's boundless energy and encouragement, the two of them finished their master's degree classes together. Hers was in technology education.
"She was forever planning a new project that would support our elementary classroom curriculum," she said.
She not only taught the students, but taught the teachers, as well.
"She taught some graduate classes in Alta," pointed out Zimmerman. " I learned more from her in my higher learning classes than any other. She was a compassionate and caring instructor."
Coaching was another of her passions. She coached junior high volleyball for about six years and was Jeannie Henningsen's assistant volleyball coach for four.
"Coaching with her was very fun," said Henningsen. " She was very competitive and always had little sayings to get the girls going. We have missed her so much these last two years on the sidelines but we always talked after each match."
The volleyball girls remembered their coach at regional finals Tuesday night by sporting multi-colored shoe laces and headbands.
Over the years Tracy also volunteered to coach youth softball and baseball. Tracy organized sports clinics for the kids and volunteered on many community athletic teams. She enjoyed playing on adult volleyball teams in SL as well.
Riding in RAGBRAI was a passion of hers and this summer, while she was in a wheelchair, she had the opportunity to "ride" for part of the trip in a custom-made bike. It was thrilling.
Her friends and family came together to support Tracy last fall by organizing Team Mork and raising funds. The event contained many of the sports Tracy enjoyed herself - running, a basketball camp for youth and a mega volleyball tournament. It was a grand celebration for a grand friend.
Tracy's compassion and caring, said her friends, carried over into her family life.
The Morks did everything together as a family. "They were an
example of a true American family. Tight, solid, happy. I am so proud to call Tracy my friend," said Zimmerman.
Langner added that Tracy was the "center of good times. She was the kind of person who checked in on friends often and never ran out of energy for family and friend activities."
"Like so many others, we will miss her a lot," Henningsen concluded.
Local pastors and Alta's school counselor Belinda Shea and counselors from Storm Lake have been on hand for students as they deal with this loss.
School will be dismissed at noon today (Thursday) so that students and teachers may attend her funeral which will take place at 1:30 p.m. at Schaller Chapel located on the campus of Buena Vista University.