Thursday, February 4, 2010

In Memoriam: David Mallery

The word has come to us via the NAIS February E-Bulletin that David Mallery has left us. As with the loss of Ted Sizer, I am shaken.

Anyone who ever met David or who attended any of his extraordinary programs for teachers and administrators automatically moved into the category of "Friend of David." His uncanny ability to remember and place faces and names is legendary, but I believe this stemmed from his deep, consuming interest in the individual stories that identify and differentiate us all. To receive a call from David about an article he had seen was to be reminded of how much he cared about teaching as a profession, about teachers as a group, but above all about each individual teacher in the independent school world--and he seemed to know and think about most of us.

I first met David when I attended the Experienced Pro Seminar nearly 20 years ago. The program triggered the first real crisis of faith I had ever had as a teacher, and when I told David about this years later (I kept coming back to Philadelphia for more, because those crises of faith in turn provoked soul-searching that strengthened my belief in myself as a teacher), the ensuing conversation was one of the most significant I have ever had.

David Mallery inspired just about everything I have done with regard to thinking and writing and speaking about this profession. He holds a place in the acknowledgments of both An Admirable Faculty (the NAIS book on hiring and professional development) and The Intentional Teacher (about being an independent school teacher), but above all he holds a place in my head and my heart as the foremost example of what I have strived to accomplish in my work and musings on behalf of those who labor in independent schools--and as one of the finest, warmest people I shall ever know.

RIP, my friend.

NOTE: NAIS is collecting memories of David here.

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