They say that as a parent, you meet your best friends because of your children, that is how I met Mary Waldheim. Mary's son Louis and my son Eric went to school together and became best of friends. It makes sense that Mary and I would soon follow.
For years play dates became chats and laughs. Then we began “our lunches”. Mary and I started a tradition of lunch once, if not twice a month. We shared stories of family, friends, and our passions. Mary would spend a lot of time telling me about her volunteering at the National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium (NMRMA). In the beginning, Mary was a volunteer and spent many an afternoon or morning at the museum. Mary enjoyed it so much. When it turned into a paying job, Mary was so excited. I always enjoyed Mary's stories about tours and guests. For years I said, “I should apply,” and never did.
Then when my last son went to college, Mary suggested I contact Shaina in the Education Department because the museum was hiring tour guides. I did just that, I put Mary down as a reference and applied. During my interview, I was able to share a lot of what I had learned about the museum from Mary. When I got hired, I was going to learn to give tours by shadowing many of the tour guides. I had the opportunity to watch many different people give tours. But I really developed my own techniques in tours after following Mary for a tour.
Mary is an exceptional museum employee and mentor for many reasons. Mary’s knowledge, her energy, and her welcoming attitude make her a great mentor. Mary has a very calming effect on the people she works with at the museum. She is one of the kindest and sincerest people I know; she calmly gives tours and by doing so the children listen to her. She never raises her voice or gets upset, she just sets the expectations of her tours, and the kids follow. I especially like how she does this, giving a tour can be difficult to keep kids' attention and have them hear you. But Mary has the ability to do this, and I have modeled my tours after hers.
Mary Waldmeir is a quiet mentor at the museum. She doesn’t command attention or respect but earns it through her action and her knowledge. I am very fortunate to call Mary my friend as well as my mentor.