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Laura Joanne Zeccardi: A Life Shaped by the Power of History

Laura Joanne Zeccardi: A Life Shaped by the Power of History
The Minnesota Historical Society tragically lost a dynamic young educator when Laura Zeccardi's life was cut short on February 24, 2013 by a previously undetected medical condition. What Laura accomplished in her three years as a History Day program specialist is remarkable, and her work with students and teachers has become an enduring legacy.

Laura's love for history was kindled by her participation in the National History Day program as a student in the Chatfield school district. She was one of the few Minnesota students who started out as a sixth grader and went on to participate every year she was eligible. Laura specialized in the documentary category and the study of Minnesota history. Whether her topic was the history of flour milling in Minneapolis or the Indian Reorganization Act of the 1930s, Laura was a fixture in the MHS library as she sought out the sources and visual images she needed to tell these stories. In many ways, her defining educational moments were shaped by the librarians and History Day staff who watched her love of history grow over the years.

That flame continued to burn bright when, as a student at Macalester College, Laura became a History Day Intern. Upon finishing graduate school, she joined the History Day staff at the Minnesota Historical Society where she was assigned to support schools in southeastern Minnesota, including Chatfield. Laura embodied the mission of MHS, using the power of history to transform lives as she shared her passion for learning with a new generation of History Day participants. At her memorial service Laura was remembered as being someone fortunate enough to be "doing the work she was born to do."

The Minnesota Historical Society is proud to share her legacy and in gratitude for Laura's life we also share the words of her students, parents and colleagues, as they gave witness to her impact as a teacher and friend.

...Laura was an amazing person. She helped me a lot and she really loved what she was doing. -Student

...Laura was not only the best History Day staffer ever, but she was a genuinely kind person too. Her love of history was so infectious and her eagerness to help students was unending. History Day won't be the same without Laura and she will be greatly missed. - Student

...Laura was an inspiration to me and many other history day students. We saw her success as proof that if you work hard you can overcome everything. - Student

...Laura was one of the nicest people I've ever met. I looked forward to her visit every single time. She changed my view on History Day. - Student

The teachers and parents with whom she worked echoed those sentiments:

...Laura's History Day student experience made her uniquely qualified to be an incredible intern and the ultimate staffer. To say that she loved to helped students research and develop their projects is an understatement. She thrived on it. Her gentle yet motivating approach was something so unique - intuitive for her but really nearly impossible to imitate. She was able to challenge students without overwhelming them, encourage them without being patronizing, and support them while still keeping it real. -Homeschool Parent and Teacher

...Laura was always smiling. I know people are constantly saying this about the people they miss, but it's so true in Laura's case. You could tell that she didn't want to be anywhere else than at the library helping the kids. When a kid came up to her at an event she would right away get this huge smile on her face and would ask them everything about their project. She was truly an inspiration and a huge role model for me. Her whole life was for these kids, and you could see that in her eyes and smile. -- Teacher

... It is tragic that Laura left us so suddenly and way too early, but she did so much for so many and has left such a legacy. Her love of learning, her passion for History Day, her desire to serve has meant so much for so many. I want to thank the Zeccardi family for bringing the world such a wonderful young woman with such a great sense of humor and such a powerful spirit. I am grateful for knowing her and so are a lot of great kids who are part of her great legacy. - Teacher

...My son lives for History, and attended as many workshops as he could at the libraries this winter. Those Saturdays at the libraries gave Charlie a place to be with History- just like other kids would be on a hockey team. The HD staff was always welcoming, and Laura knew Charlie by name. I remember her helping him get checked in at the Merriam Park Library- asking him questions about his project and wearing her History Day bowling shirt. I know Charlie got so much out of those library workshops; it was a place where History was important to other people too. - Parent

Laura's passing has resulted in an outpouring of love and sympathy by family, friends, and not surprisingly, from hundreds of students she encountered during her time as a History Day Program Specialist for the Minnesota Historical Society.

In order to ensure that Laura's educational legacy would endure, her parents created the Laura Zeccardi Memorial Endowment Fund for History Education at the Society. This is a permanent fund that will provide resources to support a passion for history in students for generations to come. If you are interested in learning more about Laura's legacy or contributing to her fund, you may connect to the online endowment page (click here) or contact the Society's Director of Education Outreach Programs, Tim Hoogland, at tim.hoogland@mnhs.org. Laura is greatly missed and will never be forgotten.


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