Monday, July 7, 2014

The Priority List

His first symptom was a buzzing in his head.  When the buzzing became a body tremor, David Menache, a high school teacher, saw a doctor and learned his cancerous brain tumor was terminal. What a blow at the age of 34!

David decided to throw himself into his career, teaching English at Miami’s Coral Reef Senior High School, a highly-competitive magnet school that drew students from all parts of the country.  In his book, The Priority List, he tells the story of his teaching career and the progression of his cancer and treatments. Stopping medication, he visits former students after first posting on his Facebook page, “I’m taking to the road. I plan to hitch, take buses… to the Pacific Ocean. So let me know where you are and if you’ve got a couch for the night.” In two days, students in 50 cities offered him a place to stay.

In one of Menache’s assignments for his students, he gives them terms, also known as the Priority List, as a way to integrate literature and life’s lessons.  His students write essays about themselves and, as he visits these young men and women, they talk about the Priority List and how it directed them into adulthood. Students reflect through conversations, posts and letters, how his caring, questioning and teaching style influenced their lives. Menache includes their writings in his book so there is the dual story of his illness and his travels to visit former students on his way to the west coast.

LC1775 .M52 2014

Menasche, David.  The Priority List: A Teacher’s Final Quest to Discover Life’s Greatest Lessons. New York: Touchstone, 2013. Print