September 17, 2011

Thank you Steve Jobs

Upon hearing the news that Steve Jobs had stepped down as Apple CEO, my heart sank. I like many other people were wishing him the best for his health and that he would be able to continue to run the wonderful company he co-founded with Steve Wozniak.

As a young teacher, Steve Jobs had entered my world championing the The Kids Can't Wait (KCW) program in 1983. The KCW program became a California legislative bill Steve crafted as a corporate donation to provide computers to California public schools. Apple donated 9,250 Apple II computers to California schools. My school, Revere Development Center (for students with severe disabilities) in San Diego, received one of these golden gifts. This event changed my life and charted possibilities I hadn’t even thought of when that first Apple II arrived before my eyes. As my memory serves, we had quite a time deciding how seventeen teachers where going to share this one computer with all our students. Steve’s genius was that students or teachers who had never even seen or used a personal computer would now get that opportunity.

This new computer become part of my imagination and during the 1984 school year I was determined to have an Apple computer in my classroom. As the powers would dictate at that time, I could not convince my school district to fund an Apple IIe for my special education class. So with my own money, I purchased an Apple IIe with a green screen, Duo-Disk floppy drives and 128k of RAM. I had actually wanted to buy the new sexy Macintosh, but Mac software hadn't been specifically designed yet for students with physical disabilities, so I opted for the more adaptable Apple IIe with DOS 3.3 and was enchanted. I literally carted that thing in my car to school and back home many times.

It was during these early years in the 1980’s that many of my teacher friends and I became ‘digital’ in an aging analog school system. The two Steve’s not only made this possible but continually demonstrated their passion to support twenty-first century teaching and learning well before the twenty-first century had actually arrived. (See - Apple Classrooms for Tomorrow ACOT.) Steve Jobs was not just ahead of the curve, his vision inspired many teachers like myself to create our own vision, one that integrated technology into the K-12 curriculum as a process to understanding.

On a personal level, Steve Jobs was born one month before me in 1955 and I just like the fact that he is part of my birth class. For me, he is like a good friend who lent me his tools and with his tools I built; I created a variety of digital content. Steve has that emotional effect with a great many people- the ability to affect how we use technology.

So my friend, I wish you the best and thank you for your passion and everlasting spirit.