David Menasche

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David Menasche (August 1, 1973 - November 20, 2014) was an American educator and a cofounding teacher of Coral Reef Senior High School in South Miami-Dade, Florida.[1]

Menasche began his teaching career at Coral Reef after earning his teaching certificate at Florida International University in 1997.[2] In the fall of 2006, he was diagnosed with glioblastoma multiforme, a lemon-size brain tumor in his right temporal lobe indicative of Stage IV brain cancer, and given a few months to live. After undergoing three surgeries, two and a half years of chemotherapy, and 30 rounds of radiation, he was able to teach at Coral Reef for six more years until he suffered a seizure in 2012 that greatly reduced his peripheral vision in both eyes and weakened his left side, forcing him to give up teaching.[3]

Unable to return to Coral Reef, Menasche decided to embark on a quest to reconnect with some of the 3,000 students he had taught during his 15-year career. Calling it The Vision Quest, Menasche posted his plans to his old friends and students on Facebook with a call for couches, and ended up with 73 offers within three days.[2]

Menasche departed from Miami on November 2, 2012, with a list of 150 available couches across the country, filming and chronicling his journey along the way. Completing his trek in February 2013, he spent a total of 101 days on the road, visiting 31 cities, and seeing over 75 former students.[4]

Following his trip, he published an autobiography, The Priority List: A Teacher’s Final Quest to Discover Life’s Greatest Lessons.[5] The title of the memoir comes from an exercise Menasche used with his high school students when studying Othello. It is a list of values that he asked students to prioritize for the play’s main characters in order to develop an understanding of motivation.[6][7]

Menasche had several tattoos, including the Dead Man’s Hand,[8] famously tattooed on McMurphy from One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, the words “Be Brave,”[8] a 45 rpm adapter,[9] and a hot air balloon tied to an anchor, which is the album cover image from Modest Mouse’s “We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank".[10]

Menasche had two older brothers, Maurice[11] and Jacques.[12] He separated from his wife, Paula, after the Vision Quest.[13] Menasche’s story gained national attention when Lidia Dinkova, a former student, contacted him to write a story for the Miami Herald.[14] NBC,[15] USA Today,[16] and CNN[17] then quickly picked up the story of Menasche’s Vision Quest and struggle with brain cancer. He died on November 20, 2014, aged 41.[18]


  1. ^ "South Florida Teacher, Author Dies Battling Brain Cancer". CBS Miami. November 20, 2014. Retrieved November 21, 2014. 
  2. ^ a b Evans, Angeline (February 25, 2013). "A cancer patient's quest for purpose and the Pacific Ocean". FIU Magazine. Florida International University. Retrieved November 21, 2014. 
  3. ^ "David Menasche, Teacher Dying Of Brain Cancer, Embarks On Cross-Country Journey". Huffington Post. December 26, 2012. Retrieved November 21, 2014. 
  4. ^ Downey, Maureen (November 17, 2013). "A teacher facing death asks former students: Did it matter?". Atlanta Journal Constitution. Retrieved November 21, 2014. 
  5. ^ "THE PRIORITY LIST". Kirkus Reviews. November 12, 2013. Retrieved November 21, 2014. 
  6. ^ Pfeffer, Ryan (November 21, 2014). "A Final Interview With David Menasche, Beloved Teacher and Author". New Times Broward-Palm Beach. Retrieved November 21, 2014. 
  7. ^ Kaye, Marcia (January 1, 2014). "The Priority List by David Menasche: review". Toronto Star. Retrieved November 21, 2014. 
  8. ^ a b Miller, Jake. "Inspirational Educator: David Menasche, Author of The Priority List". The Educator's Room. 
  9. ^ Menasche p. 181
  10. ^ Menasche p. 183
  11. ^ Menasche, p. 104
  12. ^ Coleman, Michael P. (February 6, 2014). "An Exclusive Conversation with David Menasche, Author of "The Priority List"". Sac Cultural Hub. Archived from the original on November 29, 2014. Retrieved November 21, 2014. 
  13. ^ Wills, Kerry (January 15, 2014). "Teacher battling brain cancer turns to students for life lessons". Today. Retrieved November 21, 2014. 
  14. ^ Dinkova, Lidia (August 28, 2012). "Former Miami English teacher with brain cancer prepares to journey across country". Miami Herald. Archived from the original on December 19, 2013. Retrieved November 21, 2014. 
  15. ^ Reeves, Jennifer (August 10, 2012). "Former South Florida Teacher With Brain Cancer Is Raising Money For His Vision Quest". NBC Miami. Retrieved November 21, 2014. 
  16. ^ Toppo, Greg (December 23, 2012). "Dying teacher's quest: Did I make a difference?". USA Today. Retrieved November 21, 2014. 
  17. ^ Menasche, David (January 10, 2014). "Why I'm not afraid of dying". CNN.com. Retrieved November 21, 2014. 
  18. ^ Veciana-Suarez, Ana (November 20, 2014). "Beloved Coral Reef teacher dies after battle with brain cancer". Miami Herald. Retrieved November 21, 2014. 
  • Menasche, David (2014). The Priority List. Simon and Schuster. ISBN 9781476743448.