Like hundreds of others, I have been following the hopes and disappointments Rick expressed over many months in his Caring Bridge updates.
And although recently the end appeared inevitable and merciful, I was deeply saddened when it occurred last week.
Three attributes come to mind when I think of Rick.
Tenacity. Against the illness that eventually took his life. In promoting ideas and practices that would benefit tens if not hundreds of thousands of teachers, administrators, and students around the world.
Engagement. In study and writing. In pursuit of excellence in all parts of his life. With Professional Learning Community colleagues and “students.” With Adlai Stevenson High School District 125. With Learning Forward (which was known as the National Staff Development Council when I first came to know Rick more than 25 years ago). With those with whom he shared the travails of his illness and treatment as he proved a steadfast and honest correspondent from a land he had not hoped to visit.
Love. For Becky and for his family and friends. For his work in all its manifestations.
I have heard it said that each of us dies three times—when our bodies lose their life force, when our physical manifestation is interred, and when our names are no longer spoken.
While Rick’s physical presence is no longer with us, his name will be passed down among generations of educators as an idea or practice is explained or his spirit is evoked as an exemplar of what we individually and collectively hope to become.