For folks who do not know, David has been battling cancer for the past seven years, and about three weeks ago, he posted an update that makes it sound like life’s getting a bit harder of late. It strikes me that all of us who have been influenced by him have a moment to make sure he knows the profound impact he’s had on us. I’ll start.
David was one of the earliest ed-tech evangelists I knew in this space. I think we first met back in the late 1990s. He was writing and blogging and creating web-tools for teachers and students to use at a time when many schools were still just getting online. At a time when few were “in the space,” David was pushing all of us to think critically about what we were doing. His early books – Raw Materials for the Mind and Redefining Literacy for the 21st Century – were important to me in the ways I thought about how I wanted to use many of the new tools around me.
And if that was all David had done with his career, then his contribution to our world and our work would have been profound enough, but David is so much more than that. David is one of the most kind and generous folks I’ve known in this space. He has always been one of the best listeners and best conversationalists I’ve known, and whenever he and I got the chance to hang out at ISTE or when he would come to EduCon, time spent with David always just made me feel better about the world.
There’s a story in the early formulation of SLA that most folks probably don’t know. In Spring 2006, before the school had opened, we had a huge curriculum summit, where I asked every friend in education I had to come help me work with the folks from the School District who were still a little nervous about letting this 35 year old who had never been a principal before create this new school with new ideas. David was one of the folks I invited. Now… to this day…I *swear* that, when I asked him to attend, I DID ask him to kick off the summit with a short keynote. But… the night before, when he and I were out to dinner, that news seemed, well, a bit of a surprise to him. But it didn’t matter to David — or at least if it did, he never made me feel like it did. We (quickly) finished up our food, and he went back to his hotel room to prepare and get a good night sleep. And the next morning, he kicked off the summit and his words went a long way in carving out the space the school was going to need to thrive in those early days.
It’s, to me, the quintessential David story — he is so generous with his time, so thoughtful with his words, and so brilliant with his ideas. Without his keynote that day, I’m not sure the district would have carved out the exemptions we needed to build the school we did. There’s never been a moment when I haven’t been powerfully aware of the gift he gave our school that day — and how that gift helped us to create the SLA we have to this day.
So David… as you continue your fight with cancer, let me just say – on behalf of so many of us whose work you have influenced and whose friendship has been so meaningful – thank you. Thank you for your intelligence, your vision, your friendship and your deep and overwhelming kindness.