Dave Renz (MA67) Retires as Adviser, Teacher, Mentor for MSEd Program

Dave Renz (MA67) Retires as Adviser, Teacher, Mentor for MSEd Program

David Renz

David Renz (MA67) has been a beloved adviser, teacher and mentor to aspiring teachers at Northwestern for two decades. As he retires in August, alumni and staff paid tribute to an inspiring figure in the Master of Science in Education (MSEd) program.

“Dave has touched all our lives through his wisdom, dedication, enthusiasm and wit,” MSEd director Tim Dohrer says of Renz. “I know very few people who have been so passionate and dedicated to helping new teachers, and to this great program and University.”

Similar comments about Renz’s good humor, supportiveness and wise guidance filled a reception on July 20 and a memory book for him. At the event, emceed by Dohrer, SESP dean Penelope Peterson spoke, along with alumni Mike Stevenson (MS14) and Kojo Clarke (MS14) and faculty member Peg Kritzler. Approximately 70 people attended the event at the Segal Visitor’s Center.

Kritzler’s talk described Renz: “Dave exemplifies excellence in teaching. He is a reflective practitioner, who seeks always to improve his practice. He meets his students where they are and helps them grow. As an adviser, he has an open door and a ready smile. He encourages students to call with questions or concerns, even providing his home phone number for after-hours calls,” Kritzler said. “He is also a remarkable colleague. … He is a wise, caring presence, always ready to listen and offer honest feedback. For most of us, the first step in solving a problem is to sit and talk to Dave.”

Renz began teaching a methods class at SESP part-time in 1994, and he became one of the MSEd program’s first academic advisers in 1999 when he retired from Maine East High School. He had been social studies department chair at Maine East High School for 16 of the 33 years he was on the faculty there.

During his tenure with MSEd, he began student teaching seminars and took charge of a resume book and workshops to help graduates get jobs. Over the past few years, he took on the advising of the Golden Apple fellows at Northwestern.

Although Renz has seen many changes at Northwestern over his 21 years, he says, “The quality of students has stayed the same — they’re still wonderful.” The biggest change for MSEd, according to Renz, has been how state accountability rules have affected the teaching profession. In addition, he points out the dramatic impact of new technologies.

Speaking of his years at SESP, Renz says, “It was a wonderful opportunity and a wonderful time for me.” A former student spoke to him of the number of students in schools that are being impacted by his work with teachers. “I never thought of it that way,” he says. “That’s the most gratifying piece.”

For a memory book for Renz, well-wishers contributed comments that praise Renz for being caring, wise and good-humored. Following is a sampling of remarks:

  • “Dave is one of those people who has had a profound impact on my trajectory both personally and professionally. … He is tireless, fearless and one of the most supportive people I know.” - April Pendergast (MS04)
  • “Dave has always gone above and beyond to make sure all MSEd students feel welcome, comfortable and supported. In the classroom, Dave makes each student feel validated and smart. … As a supervisor, Dave gives wonderful and insightful feedback.” - Rosie Crow (MS15)
  • “He truly cared about his students and wanted us to succeed. He would never hesitate to go the extra mile if it meant supporting new teachers at a time that was often confusing and frustrating” - Laura Harmon (MS12)
  • “No matter how nervous or anxious we were, Dave was always there to reassure us with his humor (and good old-fashioned common sense!).” - Martha Keller (MS07)
  • “Dave Renz’s class and mentorship were a highlight of my time in the Northwestern MSEd program 11 years ago. With his dry sense of humor, practical advice and consistent support, he made sure that a stressful career transition was much more relaxed and fun.” - Laura Siegel (MS04)
  • “I have so many memories of Dave, but especially of his patience, kindness and dedication to pre-service teachers.” - Lindsay Arado (MS02)
  • “Dave offered the BEST advice. … Like any good educator, he doesn't tell his mentee what to do; he guides them and helps them learn how to find the way on their own.” - Peggy Stetsko (MS07)
  • “I have so much appreciation for his patience, encouragement and unending commitment to making sure all of the student teachers and supervisors have a wonderful and fulfilling experience.” - Gigi Mathews, student teaching supervisor
  • “It was impossible to leave a meeting with Dave without feeling a little bit better, a little more self-assured and a little more inspired. … I am forever grateful for Dave for being the kind, intelligent, compassionate adviser that kept on giving!” - Amy Swibel (MS11)

Renz is slated to give a talk at the August 1 graduation ceremony for the MSEd program. As he retires, so does the August graduation ceremony. Starting next year, the June ceremony will be the single ceremony for all MSEd graduates, no matter when they complete the program.

By Marilyn Sherman
Last Modified: 8/6/15