Teacher, Coach, Mentor, Friend
In the fall of 1989, David Platt began his work at Lawrence High School as a student teacher, under the guidance of Ted Juneau and Larry Zientara. While he was completing his master’s degree at the University of Kansas, he would occasionally serve in the role as a substitute teacher and continued doing this while working at the University in Student Affairs. When given the chance to work as a teacher at Lawrence High in the fall of 1991, he jumped at the opportunity, as this was something that he had always dreamed of doing.
Another of his true loves was the subject of Geography. He fell in love with that subject early in life, after his grandfather gave his father a subscription to National Geographic. The magazine inspired him to want to explore and better understand the world he lived in as a first grader. Learning about discoveries such as the Terra-Cotta Ghost Army of the Chinese emperor and Lonesome George of the Galápagos Islands in grade school would set him on a path of exploring the world, not just in books and film, but by foot and hand.
Many years later he would take this passion of exploring and learning into the classroom. Over his career he would take students to six of the seven continents, on over 50 trips inside and outside our country. Reading about the Great Wall is fascinating but climbing and strolling the Great Wall is intoxicating and he has had the opportunity to take students there many times. There is power in exploring a place - bringing learning and understanding to life. Seeing, hearing, smelling and even tasting is the classroom that the world can bring to students. Watching the migrations on the Maasai Mara, hiking sections of the Inca Trail, cycling along vistas and slick rock in Utah, and diving on the Great Barrier Reef were all experiences that he could do and share with students in-person or by storytelling. He was even able to take students to see his childhood inspirations of the Terra-Cotta Army and Lonesome George.
Mr. Platt was also very engaged in the school culture of Lawrence High School. He helped to sponsor many clubs and organizations at the high school including, but not limited to: Student Government, Geography Club, Gaming Club, Philosophy Club, Bike Club, and Science Fiction Club. With all of these organizations he tried to tie the concept of service to others - with food drives attached to the Battle of the Bands, participation in the Adopt-a-Family program, and building trees for the Festival of Trees with the Geography Club out of recycled and reused materials.
His love of Star Wars and Star Trek provided entertainment and occasional insight to the students. He was very much a part of the lives of many student athletes and their families over the years. He spent over 20 years involved with the boys’ and girls’ soccer teams at Lawrence High including 12 years as a coach at all three levels of play. He spent over 25 years being involved in both boys’ and girls’ basketball serving at all levels as a coach. Late in his career, while coaching at the sub varsity level, he even spent time as the PA announcer, reminding the student body that “winning is for a day, but sportsmanship is for a lifetime”. He was also lucky enough to serve as an assistant to one of the finest debate teams and coaches in the region.
Mr. Platt loved everything about Lawrence High School and will continue to support and watch the youth of Lawrence be inspired by this institution. He has taught a number of subjects at the High School, but his favorites were Psychology, East Asian Studies, and both Human and World Geography. Being able to teach Psychology at the High School to seniors for so many years was as much an enriching opportunity for him as his students. Demonstrations of the power of conformity by recreating the forces of the Asch Study and the adaptation of sensory data with the field inversion glasses were always favorites.
The most important goals for Mr. Platt were to try and foster a love of learning and curiosity, being kind and just to others, and learning to believe in yourself.