I'm so sorry to hear of Walter Koetke's passing. Walter was the person who revealed to me the possibilities of educational technology. At his two-week summer workshop in 1980 he taught a group of teachers BASIC computer programming and introduced us to educational software. All through the course he eschewed jargon and left us with not only a strong foundation in programming but also a lasting lesson: it is possible to discuss technology and still use the English language.
Walter served as head of technology services for our district, so once the workshop ended he was available to answer questions and give encouragement. A good number of my students, I believe, will always remember his excellent "Survival Math" educational software series that promoted abstract thinking in addition to bolstering mathematical knowledge. Walter was an educational visionary as well. Addressing a group of educators just after the now famous "Nation at Risk" report was issued, Walter imparted to us that sense of urgency that has since fueled the educational reform movement. I will miss him.
I am so grateful that I knew Walter Koetke and so sad to hear that he has died. He was a great person in a family of great people. He was one of the kindest and most generous people I have ever met.
Undoubtedly, Walter was a visionary. I was lucky enough to be part of the MSTC program from '90 - '94 and remember the first paper we had to write regarded whether a clone of a person had a soul. Right then, I knew the program was going to be a challenge. Even to this day, I don't believe other leading educators have caught up to the advances made by Walter Koetke.
I describe my high school experiences to other people and they are floored at the opportunities we had including:
- 0 hour (1 extra class)
- The ability to CREATE whatever class you wanted next year (e.g. Marine Biology for me)
- A senior seminar that "filled in the gaps" and made sure you left the program with the well rounded knowledge expected of every graduate
- Biofeedback machines, chemistry equipment, and a computer lab that put SHAME to my university
- Advanced Software availability (like Mathematica) that was still not fully used in many colleges.
- And yes, lunch time games of Indian Poker in the "lounge"
Walter also had the uncanny ability to attract the best of the best teachers. He also was able to raise money both through donations and from helping many student excel to National Merit scholars winning money and equipment for both the student and the school. Walter created an educational framework that could do nothing BUT succeed.
I feel deeply saddened by the loss of Walter and only kick myself for not tracking him down sooner considering how many times I think about his program. Condolences to Walter's family.
Our thoughts are with you in this time of loss. Mr. Koetke was not only a great educator, but a wonderful human being who touched so many of our lives in profound ways. Those of us who knew him at PLD will remember him for his signature socks and Birkenstocks (even in the middle of winter!); for those groggiest of zero hours, so early I once showed up wearing mismatched shoes; for asking thought provoking questions like, "Where is Sarah's mother?"; for encouraging us all to strive. Thank you for gifting us with your time on this earth, Mr. Koetke. You will be missed.
Our sincerest condolences. We both graduated from the MSTC program in 1996 and believe that what Mr. Koetke created there was ahead of it's time for the field of education. We can only imagine that he touched and changed the lives of many people.
With sympathy and warmth,