The big bus rolled to a stop and the high school students began to gather their hats,
sunscreen, and water bottles. They had left the Manhattan Center for Science and
Mathematics well before dawn to join celebrities and lawmakers at a massive rally on
the National Mall urging the George W. Bush administration and Congress to help
end the genocide in Sudan’s Darfur region. On this warm spring morning in 2006,
they were ready to march toward the Capitol and into history.
Sandy Price, a secretary at the school, wasn’t supposed to go on the trip. She
asked David Glasner, a young social studies teacher whom she knew, if she could
tag along. Glasner taught a world history class that included the Holocaust and the
genocide in Darfur. He shrugged. Sure, he told her. Come along. It seemed to be
important to her.
Now, as the students were preparing to disembark, Price shot to the front of the
bus and grabbed the microphone.
“When I was younger, I saw Martin Luther King Jr. here,” Price told the
students. “It’s like getting a tattoo. It’s an experience that will be with you forever.
You will never forget this.”
David Glasner did not forget. The 41-year-old educator, who became the new
superintendent of the Shaker Heights City School District this summer, still gets
choked up when he recalls that spring trip to Washington and Sandy Price’s words.
Some of the kids on the bus that day went on to become teachers, or to pursue
careers in social justice.
To Glasner, the experience represents a powerful example of the difference
education can make in the lives of young people.
“Those students learned that ‘I have a voice, and I’m using it,’” he says.
“They learned that they have the power to change history. I realized I had
the opportunity to help students become citizens who can improve their
communities, their country, and their world.”
Making a difference was a concept that came early in life to Glasner, who
grew up in Chevy Chase, Maryland, an immaculate, tree-lined suburb just north
46 SUMMER 2019 | WWW.SHAKER.LIFE
His first teaching job was
in the same Lower East
Side school building from
which his grandmother
had graduated high
school in the 1930s.
of Washington, D.C. He and his twin
brother, Ariel, were the oldest children
of Sol, an attorney, and Nina, a social
worker who worked with visually
impaired children in the Prince George’s
County (Maryland) schools. The twin
boys were joined a few years later by a
Ariel followed in his father’s
footsteps and became a lawyer. But
early on, David seemed destined to
follow the path of his mother and
paternal grandmother, an elementary
school teacher in New York City and
one of his first role models in the field
“I loved school,” he says. “As early
as the seventh grade someone asked
me what I wanted to do and I knew the
answer. Even my family members who
are not educators instilled in me a sense
that we are here to make a difference.
We had members of our family who
survived the Holocaust. I grew up
believing that we have to make sure
nothing like that ever happens again.”