Thursday, February 18, 2016

The Priority List

Title: The Priority List: A Teacher's Final Quest to Discover Life's Greatest Lessons
Author: David Menasche
Published: January 14th 2014 by Touchstone
Format: Hardcover, 240 pages
Genre: Memoir

Imagine being in the prime of your life. You develop a ringing in your ear that progresses into a constant discomfort that now resonates to your feet. You finally give in and make a doctor’s appointment only to be told that it is glioblastoma. This is not your life plan. A blueprint that only gives you 15 months to live. A preordained strategy that will rob you of your passion for teaching.

David (Da-Veed) Menache did not choose teaching, it chose him the day that he visited a first grade class and read to them. The children were enraptured and when David had the class write their own poems, he was sold when he saw the looks in their eyes. Flash forward to his current day when he has to explain to his advanced English class at a progressive Coral Springs, Florida high school that their beloved teacher was just diagnosed with cancer. There were questions and tears, but what remained was a man and his influence over his students. A man that ate, slept, and breathed education. A man that had to find a new normal and not let his students down.

As his condition deteriorated and he was no longer able to enter a classroom, David decides that he wanted to travel. To see his past students and to see if what he had instilled in his classroom had lasting effects on those that he had dedicated so much to. His whole adult life was teaching what he loved, teaching was what he did, and who he was. It was now time to see their stories. Putting his treatments on pause, he took the greatest leap of all.

The ‘Priority List’ title comes from an assignment that he had given to his student. Placing words in order of their importance, each student used different terms depending on what was going on in their lives at the time. We can each do this simple task. Who we are and what we think will change over time and situation, but still, we each have priorities.

Interspersed with book titles, poems, quotes, and notes from previous students, David Menasche takes us through his journey and his priorities to see the man that he had become through his teaching and opening up to his students during the most difficult years of his life.

One-hundred and one days, thirty-one cities, and seventy-five students later he has succeeded; he had succeeded in his goal of getting his confidence back after cancer had stolen it from him. On his final trip, he was able to stop being the teacher and become the student. He was able to see in person whom they had become. In return, his students were able to see him – foibles and all – and once again, connect with the man that was so instrumental in their lives.

David Menasche died on November 20, 2014, at the age of 41.

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