Yesterday we were informed by Allison Druin, Chief Futurist at the University of Maryland, that our original FIA Partner, Tim Schaffer, who enabled us to win the grant in 2013, has passed away, his life cut short at the age of 42 by an electrical accident at his home. This is tragic news for his family and for the school, and largely for the whole community of people of good will like Tim, even those who might not have had the chance to know him.
Tim Schaffer was the director of technology at the Barrie School and he was instrumental in bringing about our after-school workshop even before we had clearly defined lesson plans. He met with Stine and me before the workshop started at the beautiful Barrie campus in Silver Spring and he helped us develop the curriculum and gave practical tips drawing on his experience as educator and technology expert. I distinctly remember the first time Stine and I drove to Barrie after winning the grant, completely wide-eyed, and impressed by the school’s sprawling and green campus, I remember how nervous and full of anticipation we were at this moment when for the first time there was a chance, a real chance unfolding in front of our footsteps as we made our way to Tim’s office, that our brainchild would become something in the world. And Tim was the bridge who made this possible.
Throughout the duration of the seed grant, which was also active in three other schools, Tim was especially helpful to me, as I was designated to teach the workshop at Barrie. Every time I went to Barrie he was there and always ready to help if the technology wasn’t working properly. At some sessions, he participated fully, acting as a second teacher, helping the girls on specific tasks they were getting stuck on. Then, on May 3rd, we held a final two hour session with both the girls and their parents, which was largely thanks to Tim who organized it and helped me plan it. This final session was a great success as the parents got to learn from their daughters specific online knowledge-creating or sharing-skills, and we were able to hand the girls certificates and presents in a very uplifting and celebratory atmosphere.
Tim was very much a part of the continuing legacy of WikidGRRLs and wanted to be informed about our future endeavors. He would certainly be glad to know that we are now working on establishing a partnership with a middle school in Baltimore and expect to be sharing the curriculum with them in thi fall. We will miss Tim so dearly. I attach the testimonial that he had kindly sent us for the final presentation to the Future of Information Alliance (FIA) and Deutsch foundation partners, as he could not make it in person that day. This little audio clip is precious to us now, not so much for the content, but for the bittersweet impression of Tim’s presence amongst us that it can create, at least for this fleeting moment. May he rest in peace.