REMEMBERING DAVID GREENSPAN

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 David Greenspan was a pied-piper of sorts, a pedagogical magician, and if you attended his funeral last week, you’d swear you were paying homage to a celebrity or a prince.

Hundreds of mourners packed West End Temple and, in addition to the rabbi’s praise and the beautiful words of his sisters, he was eulogized in one way or another by family members, former classmates, colleagues and friends who commented informally on David’s goodness, in and out of the classroom.

David Greenspan began teaching teaching at PS 114 in September of 2015, and in a few months magically transformed the lives of the students in his self-contained bridge class. David Greenspan knew how to teach in the same way that birds know how to fly. He could assess the potential of every student like a loving sculptor appraises a slab of marble. He knew that if he worked hard enough, each child would approach the degree of perfection that their individuality allowed. His great love was the chisel that shaped the academic lives of these children into something new and wonderful. David believed in them and so they came to believe in themselves. They were nurtured by his love, ignited by his passion, and captivated by his music, and so they learned to the tune of this “pied-piper’s” loving guitar. Mr. Greenspan was their hero, their Prince Charming, and their beloved teacher.

Unobserved I watched him work his magic in the classroom. I was so proud of David. We shared a philosophy and a past. You see, I was one of his teachers way back when he attended PS 114.

We were all so proud of David who fit so perfectly into a school staffed by teachers and para-professionals who care so much, inspire so unforgettably, and love so selflessly. And, I want to thank Mr. Grill for being the kind of principal who acknowledges this kind of love and dedication. He appreciated David and helped to make the last days of his life happy and rewarding.

“David had a clear passion for what he did and ultimately, each child’s needs were met. He made an everlasting difference in the lives he touched. His students reached for the stars because their teacher said they could,” Principal Grill remarked.

Visibly moved, Assistant-­Principal Barbara Poggioli-Esposito, also shared her feelings, “David Greenspan has aptly been referred to as ‘the Child Whisperer’, and in the brief time that I knew him, I found this to be so true. He had the unique ability to see a hint of light in a child’s eyes and then stoke the embers to ignite the flame, gently guiding the child to a place few believed was possible. His presence in our school and in our lives will be truly missed.”

My dear friend and colleague Judith Davidson had this to say, “Most people run after riches or fame, but few acquire either. Fewer still run from both and instead engage in daily acts of loving kindness. That was David. Thus, he acquired for himself, the highest accolade in Judaism, a “Kesser Shem Tov,” which is Hebrew for “The Crown Of A Good Name.”

Mel and Sherry, you can be so proud of the good son you created. Most people live much longer and do much less. I pray there’s some comfort when you consider that some of the most beautiful and wonderful things are short-lived like butterflies, sunsets and shooting stars. Fireworks burst in the sky and blossom just for glorious moments. Like David, “Nothing gold can stay.”

(Joan Diehl is a writing teacher at PS 114)

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