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MIAMI (CBSMiami) — A South Florida former teacher who had been battling brain cancer for almost a decade has passed away.
David Menasche died early Thursday morning, at home and surrounded by his family, according to his Facebook page.
The post ended off with, “He is, and will always be, loved.”
He was a beloved English teacher at Coral Reef High School but when he found out he had terminal brain cancer, he became a teacher to much more than a classroom of students.
Back in 2006, he was given two months to live but instead lasted 8 years.
In 2012, he had to give up teaching after a stroke but opted for another classroom.
“I figured I’d try writing, but I figured all my best stories were from the classroom for the last 15 years and that if I wanted the rest of the story I had to go out and get it,” said Menasche at a Books & Books event last January.
Menasche decided to stop treatment and hit the road by bus and train, visiting past students along the way in what he called his “Vision Quest”.
He wrote a book about his journey called the “The Priority List: A Teacher’s Final Quest to Discover Life’s Greatest Lessons.”
The book’s title is named for one of Menasche’s most popular lessons where he used to ask his students to rank 26 abstract words in order of importance to them.
Some of the words included “privacy,” “security,” “love,” “power,” and “wealth.”
He would make them do it once in the beginning of the year then once at the end of the year.
Menasche said usually the lists would change and his was no different.
“Prior to getting diagnosed with cancer, my own list would have had honor at number one, but since then, since becoming disabled, my number one would be strength,” Menasche said.
Back in January, he was reluctant to say what he hoped his legacy would be but his former students didn’t hesitate.
“He made me believe I could go to college, that I could be a writer, have a voice,” said Tiffany Milakovich.
“He took it to the level of I can be your teacher, I can be your adviser and I can be your friend,” said Ayixa Vecino.
While his legacy may be different for those he touched along the way, he said his journey was his salvation.
“I firmly believed before I set out that I would die on the road,” he writes in the book. “But I didn’t. I lived on the road. It didn’t kill me; it saved me.”
His book has been adapted for a film that Steve Carell is set to produce and star in.
In the interest of full disclosure, “The Priority List” is published by Simon and Schuster, a division of the CBS Corporation.
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