My Mentors

GARY SNYDER -- Poet, "Deep Ecologist"
I met Gary Snyder at a poetry reading in Bowling Green, Ohio, in 1971. He showed a compassionate and courageous heart in how to walk this earth with civility and dignity. I have enjoyed seeing the evolution of his writing and consciousness over the past 40+ years. He helps me see my own "home," my connectedness to all life, and my responsibilities in this lifetime. He wakes me up.

MARGARET WHEATLEY -- Organizational Development Guru
When I read Margaret Wheatley's A Simpler Way and also Leadership and the New Science: Discovering Order in a Chaotic World, I found a person who was able to develop systems in an organic and elegant way. She has inspired my thinking about what it means to be a leader, and how to facilitate a flow of change. Some people believe that systems are mechanistic and can be "controlled," but Margaret Wheatley says this only produces compliance.

DALAI LAMA -- An Infinite Source of Spiritual Renewal
I have attended several teachings with the Dalai Lama, and have always walked away a better human being. He summarized one of his week-long complex teachings with a simple statement: "Try to do good, and try not to do harm." This has guided my thoughts, words, and actions. There is always much to learn and unlearn, and the Dalai Lama has been a continual source of renewal for me.

TONY WAGNER -- World Thinker
Tony Wagner is the first Innovation Education Fellow at the Technology & Entrepreneurship Center at Harvard.  Prior to this, he was the founder and co-director of the Change Leadership Group at the Harvard Graduate School of Education for more than a decade. He stimulates thinking about the global achievement gap, change leadership, innovation, and other important topics within a world framework.

CAROL ANN TOMLINSON -- One Size Does Not Fit All
I had the opportunity to participate in three of Carol Ann Tomlinson's summer instituters on differentiated instruction at the University of Virginia and also to host her work within one of my school districts in the United States. She opened my eyes to the wonderful uniqueness of all kids, and the importance of developing approaches to truly honor the interests, readiness, and learning profiles of all students. She brings a wonderful combination of passion, joy, and thoughtfulness to all of her work.

HEIDI HAYES JACOBS -- Gutsy Forward Thinker
I used to develop national conferences on curriculum integration, and Heidi Hayes Jacobs was an educational thinker whom we repeatedly invited for our conferences. Heidi helped us to see that curriculum needs to be a "work in progress," a "living and breathing" document, whose ultimate owners are students. Heidi also helped us to see curriculum as a point of reference for teachers and/or Professional Learning Communities to check the effectiveness of the written curriculum to the taught, assessed, and learned curriculum.

RICK DUFOUR -- Professional Learning Communities
I was familiar with Rick's leadership as a Superintendent for the highly acclaimed Adlai E. Stevenson School District in Illinois, and I brought him into my school district in the United States to work with our administrative team on visioning. It was readily apparent that this was a leader who truly believed in the value and importance of collaboration to improve student learning. Rick has continued to serve as a champion for Professional Learning Communities, and to help educators throughout the world to develop effective practices.

I remember seeing Jackie Torrence tell her stories at the National Storytelling Festival over three seasons in Tennessee and also at a storytelling program in Arizona. Jackie shared her stories in a way that helped us to experience our vast imaginations inspired by her words. I have since learned that the stories we tell ourselves and the stories we hear create the belief systems and cultures in which we live. What are the stories that now need to be told to remind us of who we are?

REB ZALMAN -- Spiritual Eldering
As an only child, I one day found myself caring for my dying father. I realized I had no positive role models for ageing and had no idea on how to best offer support. Serendipitously I came across a book called From Ageing to Sageing by Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi. I read the book in one day and established contact with the Spiritual Eldering Institute that Reb Zalman had just started. Two years later I graduated from his first class of certified trainers in Spiritual Eldering, and I was able to help my father find meaning in his life and death. Reb Zalman is my role model for ageing joyfully and wisely.

MARIANNE BOYER -- My Muse and Soul Mate
I was blessed to find and marry my wife Marianne. She is my soul mate. I learn from her, I experience this world with her, and I am inspired by her. Marianne and I had a mutual friend who originally tried to get us to meet, but we repeatedly refused. In our different areas of work, we "accidentally" met each other. From that first day, I knew she was special. We have now been married for 20+ years. Marianne is the highlight of my life. I am grateful for her every day. I love her smile. I love her unique style. I love how we walk through this lifetime together.

When provided a safe environment for inquiry, discovery, and expression, they will exceed our wildest dreams. When provided a didactic environment, they will learn to comply or tune out. How can we see kids as our students and also as our teachers?

MARTIN SKELTON -- Provocateur
Martin taught me the "looking for learning" protocol for going into classrooms and interviewing students about their learning. I was previously focused on what teachers were doing, and Martin shifted my focus to what learners were learning. He taught me to use a learning focus as the filter for all choices (e.g., Is this a learning-focused meeting agenda?, Is this a learning-focused newsletter?, Is this a learning-focused classroom?). Martin also sets a very high bar for "understanding," and he always challenges my thinking.

Jay McTighe -- Teaching for Understanding
I had the wonderful opportunity to learn from Jay at a few national institutes and also for a two-year intensive at Singapore American School that was opened to 34 other "like-minded" international schools. He helped me understand how to design curriculum, assessment, and instruction on school and classroom levels that gave prominence to what's most important. He opened up learning for teachers and students through essential questions. He showed me how to develop curriculum and teaching for deep understanding. He developed a model that creates alignment from the written curriculum to the taught, assessed, and learned curriculum in ways that are flexible and challenging.

If we believe we can learn from everyone, we will. It is often the unknown people who can be our greatest teachers. I remember a small old man who impeccably swept the sidewalk at my school with an old fashioned broom. Whenever he saw me, he gave me the friendliest smile. I found that each day I hoped to see him because he showed so much light. As I received his light, I also learned that it is good to also share light with others. It's the people we could easily pass by who may have something important for us to know, feel, and experience.

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