The Priority List: A Teacher's Final Quest to Discover Life's Greatest Lessons

The Priority List: A Teacher's Final Quest to Discover Life's Greatest Lessons

4.6 13
by David Menasche
     
 

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In this poignant and inspiring memoir, a beloved high school English teacher with terminal brain cancer undertakes a cross-country journey to reunite with his former students in order to find out if he made a difference in their lives, discovering along the way what is truly important in life.

Based on a beloved teacher’s most popular

Overview

In this poignant and inspiring memoir, a beloved high school English teacher with terminal brain cancer undertakes a cross-country journey to reunite with his former students in order to find out if he made a difference in their lives, discovering along the way what is truly important in life.

Based on a beloved teacher’s most popular lesson, The Priority List is a bold, inspirational story of learning, love, and legacy that challenges us to ask: What truly matters in life?

David Menasche lived for his work as a high school English teacher. His passion inspired his students, and between lessons on Shakespeare and sentence structure, he forged a unique bond with his kids, buoying them through personal struggles while sharing valuable life lessons.

When a six-year battle with brain cancer ultimately stole David’s vision, memory, mobility, and—most tragically of all—his ability to continue teaching, he was devastated by the thought that he would no longer have the chance to impact his students’ lives each day.

But teaching is something Menasche just couldn’t quit. Undaunted by the difficult road ahead of him, he decided to end his treatments and make life his classroom. Cancer had robbed him of his past and would most certainly take his future; he wouldn’t allow it to steal his present. He turned to Facebook with an audacious plan: a journey across America— by bus, by train, by red-tipped cane—in hopes of seeing firsthand how his kids were faring in life. Had he made a difference? Within forty-eight hours of posting, former students in more than fifty cities replied with offers of support and shelter.

Traveling more than eight thousand miles from Miami to New York, to America’s heartland and San Francisco’s Golden Gate, and visiting hundreds of his students, David’s fearless journey explores the things we all want and need out of life—family, security, independence, love, adventure—and forces us to stop to consider our own Priority List.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
12/02/2013
In fall 2006, high school teacher Menasche, then age 34, was diagnosed with an aggressive and deadly type of brain tumor, glioblastoma multiforme. Despite these challenges, in November 2012 he embarked on a journey—or Vision Quest, as he calls it—to recover his past by reconnecting with former students. Menasche, the son of booksellers, places literature at the center of his thinking and enlists it as a primary means of coping. A successful technique he used with students, the "priority list," was useful in ranking the importance of different values and provided an effective tool for identify one's own motivations. His chutzpah and quirky sense of humor more than explain Menasche's popularity at Coral Reef Senior High School in Miami; after announcing his road trip on Facebook, former students in 50 cities agreed to meet with him and offered hospitality. By reconsidering his priorities, letting others care for him, and giving in to the "beautiful turmoil" of his illness, Menasche has been able to accept the break-up of his marriage and retirement from his job while reaping surprising rewards from his quest. Like Randy Pausch's The Last Lecture, this memoir is a rousing testimony to the ways in which, in the face of death, living fully in the present moment becomes possible. (Jan.)
Jim Lindberg of Pennywise
"A lot of people could write about what they would do if they were told they only had a short time to live, but few could write as thoughtfully, and with as much honesty, as David has with The Priority List. This former skate punk turned English teacher's life lessons will inspire anyone who reads them."
Jerry DeWitt
“Within David’s journey, there are powerful lessons about how we connect to one another, and how even the smallest gestures can leave a lasting legacy. THE PRIORITY LIST is a brave and important book, which at its deepest level reminds us what it means to be human."
Elizabeth Gilbert
"In an abstract way, we all know that life is short and precious. Or, at least, we THINK we know. But for David Menasche — a passionate young teacher diagnosed with terminal cancer at age 34 — that notion was anything but abstract. Filled with a wide-eyed reverence for life, he set off on an audacious journey around the country, determined to visit all his old students and speak to them (and listen to them) about the true priorities of existence. The result is a beautiful, heartfelt, and ultimately important story about love, kinship, gratitude, and miracles."
Ron Clark
"When cancer told David Menasche his teaching days were over, he told cancer: With all due respect, you don't know me very well. Writing with courage and strength, his determination to share life's lessons beyond his classroom is both inspirational and enlightening."
Children's Literature - Meredith Kiger
Written by a cancer patient who is first and foremost a teacher, this inspiring tale follows the journey of the author from the time he is diagnosed with brain cancer at the age of thirty-four to the present as he continues his fight for life and its meaning. Often looking back at his beginnings the story focuses mainly on his life as a high school teacher in a magnet school and his personal and professional growth. Taking his inspiration from his myriad of students and his influence on their growth, Mr. Measche relates the gritty details of the day to day dealing with life as a cancer patient but with the strength he receives from his work with students. One of his tasks for his students was creating a priority list, things they wanted to achieve or experience in life. When he realizes he can no longer physically teach he is forced to create his own priority list. In the process he makes the decision to refuse further treatment and journey across the U.S. visiting former students who have inspired him as much as he inspired them. Messages from many of his students appear throughout the book. This is one man’s journey through one of life’s most challenging adventures. Reviewer: Meredith Kiger, Ph.D.; Ages 15 up.
Kirkus Reviews
2013-11-12
Inspiring memoir from a young teacher who refused to give up after a brain cancer diagnosis. The idea of the priority list came to Menasche in his early days teaching honors and AP English at a Miami magnet school, when his students were having trouble relating to Shakespeare's Othello. In an effort to help them, he presented a list of words that applied to everyone's life--"honor, love, wealth, power, career, respect"--and asked them to order the words according to the importance they might have had for Othello. The list, which he modified over the years to include more abstract ideas, became one of his standard teaching tools, and it helped students connect with the literary characters and reflect on their own priorities. "Their lists revealed more about their lives and what mattered to them than anything they ever said aloud," he writes. Only in 2006, after he was diagnosed with brain cancer at 34, did Menasche write his own list. He was dismayed to find that the top items on the list were friendship and education rather than love or his marriage. After two emergency operations and continuous chemotherapy, he managed to lead a relatively normal life and continue teaching for six more years. He describes his return to the classroom after the first operation as one of the happiest days of his life, and he explains that since he was childless, his students were like family to him. When his health deteriorated and he was finally forced to give up teaching in 2012, he was deeply depressed. Then he made the audacious decision to travel the country and see how his former students were doing, and he discovered that the bonds he had formed with them remained strong. Student comments at the conclusion of each chapter celebrate the author's continuing influence on their lives. A beautiful meditation.
People
"A teacher's healing journey."
Miami Herald
"A memoir that explores one man’s search for love, family, purpose and gratitude... never offers facile answers — only an examined reality that is uplifting and even, at times, comical."
Jim Lindberg of punk rock band Pennywise
"A lot of people could write about what they would do if they were told they only had a short time to live, but few could write as thoughtfully, and with as much honesty, as David has with The Priority List. This former skate punk turned English teacher's life lessons will inspire anyone who reads them."

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781476743448
Publisher:
Touchstone
Publication date:
01/14/2014
Pages:
240
Sales rank:
757,269
Product dimensions:
10.10(w) x 7.20(h) x 1.30(d)

Meet the Author

David Menasche grew up a skate punk with a love for literature and a lack of direction. He’s careful never to say that he fell into teaching but that he “rose up to it.” He taught English at Miami’s magnet school, Coral Reef Senior High School, for fifteen years. In 2012, he was awarded Teacher of the Year by his region. He lives in New Orleans.

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The Priority List: A Teacher's Final Quest to Discover Life's Greatest Lessons 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 13 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Couldn't put it down. Menasche remains an excellent teacher even know that he's left the classroom. Truly an inspiring read for anyone, especially those with aspirations of teaching. -HM
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A book that gives so much more back to the reader than just a story about a dying man taking a trip. If you've ever had a teacher inspire you or hope to be a teacher that inspires this is a must read!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was not sure if it would be a downer or uplifting but WOW! what an amazing story. I just couldn't put it down and didn't want it to end- a must read book to share!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Inspiring. Beautiful. The best book I've read in a long time. Read it!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was fortunate enough to have two teachers when I was in school that took the kind of interest shown by David Menasche toward his students. Although they weren't exactly like David, the positive impact they had on my life was profound. I was fortunate enough to be able to express that to one of those teachers, like some of David's students did for him. Anyone wanting to teach should be required to read this book before getting in front of students.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
T'was an amazing read I was never a student of his, however this isn't only good for teachers, but students as well. That's all.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is not a typical heartbreak story... while it did make shed some tears it was mostly due to happy emotions. This book is about passion, survival and love. Inspirational...
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
My apologies, but I did not enjoy reading the stories. I expected more of a guidance theme due to the fact I lost my wife to pancreatic cancer. I am not sqying that this would be a good book for others, just not what I expected and I did not finish reading it.