A life well lived is a precious gift from someone who has made our world a brighter, better place.

Over the weekend, the NBAPS family lost a dear family member. Brett Carlson, Co-Director of Early Learning and Community Education, passed away after his courageous battle with colon cancer. Brett’s driving purpose was to instill hope in the world. He displayed his purpose statement on his email signature and shared it through his optimistic state of mind each and every day, both at work and in his everyday life.

Upon being diagnosed with cancer, Brett prioritized finding ways his story could instill hope in others. He spoke to student-athletes across the state and was the keynote speaker at several conferences over the last year, sharing his story and about ways people make a difference in others lives in small but important and lasting ways. His theme, You are part of someone’s story, resonated with many. One parent told me that Brett’s message was life changing for her son, who after hearing Brett speak, her son boldly shared his goals and put a plan into action for his future.

We go through our lives not realizing the impact we are making on others. Brett always chose to lift people up because he passionately believed hope is everything. Brett’s impact was profound, and when the news of Brett’s condition reached our school community, many felt compelled to send Brett messages of hope and be part of lifting up a man that had instilled hope for them.

Last week, three buses transported 150 students wanting to deliver a message of hope to Brett at his home. They choose to be part of something bigger than themselves. Their selfless action brought joy to our beloved colleague and friend at his greatest time of need.  When life was at its worst, Brett leaned into his optimistic mindset and chose joy. After this visit to his home, he posted, “This is what it means to be part of a school community filled with joy, love and HOPE. Words cannot describe how meaningful the visit was from @nbapschools students, staff and community members this afternoon. Thank you. SKOL!”

Brett is already deeply missed, and our thoughts and prayers are with the Carlson family. He leaves behind a priceless example of the impact of instilling hope in others.

A life well lived is a legacy. Brett lived his life bringing joy to others. We posted about Brett’s passing on our Facebook page and over 750 people responded within the first 24 hours with expressions of gratitude and stories of impact. Students, parents, colleagues and community members continue to share moments of inspiration of how Brett Carlson impacted their lives. Brett had a higher calling that he acknowledged as his ultimate purpose and source of strength. My heart is heavy, yet filled with joy as Brett hears these words of life well lived…

Well done, Brett Carlson. Well done.

SARA PAUL is superintendent of North Branch Area Public Schools. She can be reached at 651-674-1000 or spaul@isd138.org.

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