I thought I came to know Ron through Margaret, but in fact, I had met Ron years earlier at one of many meetings the Coalition of Essential Schools had at the Rhode Island Foundation. From our first meeting, Ron was supporting important school reform with his deeply held set of core principles, with leadership and with his gracious style. We bonded over Ted Sizer even before we really knew each other.
I’m going to skip over the years of conferences we shared through CCT, and jump to Ron’s time with Channel 13. As I introduced Ron to superintendents (I particularly remember an end-of-year gathering in Garrison, New York), I watched all these jaded school leaders fall under Ron’s spell. He spoke their language but made them feel better than they actually were. The idea of the Celebration of Teaching turned into a powerful gathering that galvanized educators from all over the country. Ron led the way in elevating the voice and presence of teachers –typically keeping himself off center stage, even though it was his magic that brought the vision to reality.
But for all of his enormous contributions to the national discourse on teaching and learning, what I remember most poignantly was a dinner we shared when Margaret was leaving CCT. Like most big transitions, it was an emotional time. And Ron, the national leader, was most intent on being the loving, supportive partner I always observed. His only focus on how to support the woman he clearly adored.
There will be many accolades, and he certainly deserves them. But the greatest legacy Ron leaves, is how deeply he loved. He loved his work. He loved schools, but mostly he loved people He is gone way too soon, but his love, as his legacy of integrity and commitment, will endure.