Patient, generous, and kind. Compassionate, humble, and wise.
These are some of the words members of the Calvin community chose to describe their former professor and colleague, Edna Greenway, who died on January 9, 2024, at the age of 88.
The two words expressed most often: faithful and encourager.
“Edna was a shining example of a person of faith living out her vocation,” said Dianne Zandstra, a colleague and mentee of Greenway. “We all looked up to Edna.”
An intentional approach
Greenway taught in the Spanish department at Calvin for a quarter century. While at Calvin, she developed programs for elementary and secondary Spanish teachers, pioneered a program in bilingual education and established ties between Calvin and the Hispanic people and culture. She was also involved in the creation of a program to certify teachers of English as a Second Language.
What she did at Calvin was impressive, but how she went about this work is what is remembered.
A faithful servant
“She was faithful to her colleagues, including while she was department chair, in supporting, encouraging, and appreciating us,” said Marilyn Bierling, a longtime colleague and good friend of Greenway’s. “Her door was always open to give us advice or simply chat about what mattered to us at that moment … She was a true mentor for me.”
“She was an educator at heart, willingly sharing teaching materials and ideas with colleagues,” said Marcie Pyper, a former colleague.
Greenway was also faithful to her students.
“Her relationship with her students was not contractual but rather covenantal,” said Cynthia Slagter, who knew Greenway first as her teacher at Calvin and later as a colleague. “Students understood that her care for them was rooted in her faith.”
An encouraging teacher
“Professor Greenway (as I knew her then) loved to encourage her students specifically,” said Alisa Tigchelaar, who took a 1991 interim on teaching Spanish language with Greenway. “I still regularly recall how she once told me that I explained a specific tough structure well to students and encouraged me to consider teaching after she’d seen me lead the afternoon groups for Spanish 122. This specific encouragement was one of the reasons I decided to choose Spanish and become a professor. She was without a doubt an encourager.”
An educator at heart
Greenway’s love for teaching seemed always present, from her time on the mission field when she homeschooled her five children and helped establish a Christian school where she taught reading and music to her teaching first grade at Seymour Christian School to her 30-year career in higher education between Calvin University, Calvin Theological Seminary, and Westminster Theological Seminary. Even in retirement, she was still teaching, volunteering in recent years as a tutor at Buchanan Elementary and as a discipleship leader at The Potter’s House Christian School.
She saw this work of teaching and mentoring as her call to be faithful. “This is the same word she used to describe an essential characteristic for her education students: ‘faithful,’” said Bierling.
“Her faith permeated everything that she did,” said Pyper.
An established legacy
And now, thanks to Greenway’s faithfulness and encouragement, her decades of teaching continue to have ripple effects.
“She embodied the idea of faith-infused teaching. This is a legacy of hers that I try to carry on and that we tried to enshrine in the Edna Greenway Scholarship that we established [in 2001] when she retired,” said Slagter.
The Edna Greenway Scholarship is an endowed scholarship given each year to the education student writing the best essay on “the importance of the integration of faith in their own lives and careers.” In this way, future teachers have and continue to benefit from Edna’s “Reformed Christian perspective on teaching and learning.”
Greenway is survived by her children: Irma Dominguez (Francisco), Kathy DeJong (Jeff), Jeff Greenway, Scott Greenway (Kelly), and son-in-law Bob Deurloo, 18 grandchildren, 40 great-grandchildren, and four great-great-grandchildren. Greenway was preceded in death by her husband Roger, daughter Wendy Deurloo, daughter-in-law Marilyn Greenway, grandson Joel Dominguez and brother John Beebe.