ABOUT DON EICHHORN
How might we create a unique school for a unique age group? That was the question that a young doctoral student at the University of Pittsburgh wrestled with, building on his knowledge of child development, his scholarly research of Piagetian stages of development and his personal observations as a health and physical education teacher, principal and Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction.
The young educator was Donald H. Eichhorn…the place was Upper St. Clair, PA…and the time was 1962, in a national climate of vision (John F. Kennedy was President) and dreams for social justice (Martin Luther King). Born and educated in Etna, PA, educated at Slippery Rock University and University of Pittsburgh, and serving not only as an administrator in suburban Pittsburgh but also as Superintendent of Schools in Lewisburg, Pa, Don truly is a favorite son of Pennsylvania. His landmark Drash Medical Study has provided evidence that youth between 10 and 14 years of age have unique physical characteristics and his internationally recognized model for instruction is the framework for the middle school and the criteria as represented in the Schools to Watch award. Those who were fortunate enough to work with and for Dr. Eichhorn recall his passion, commitment and wisdom, often communicated through phrases that are timeless: “each learner is unique,” “the planners are the implementers,” “we must have balance between the art and science of education,” “continuous progress of each learner must be our goal,”
Donald Eichhorn’s legacy is not only professional, he is survived by his wife, Theresa, who provides strong advocacy for middle level learners, his daughter, Pamela, who continues her leadership tradition serving as K-8 and University educator, including the privilege of instructing both of her adopted daughters from China. His son, Douglas who models and advocates for balance in the education of his own children who, according to their proud grandmother, are both successful university students. Both Pam and Doug were educated in the middle school inspired by their father, providing first-hand testimony to the success of the program.
PAMLE is proud to name our STW award for Dr. Donald H. Eichhorn. His work has not only shaped Middle School Education in the United States, but Don’s career included personal, national and international consultations in schools as far away as Indonesia.
Pennsylvania Association for Middle Level Education honors Donald H. Eichhorn “whose vision illuminated the way toward a new horizon in adolescent education and whose zealous dedication challenged educators to redefine the core concept of middle level education” (Robert George, PMSA, 1995)
“Don’s work broke new ground. He not only articulated in words his new middle school concept, he presided over the first real implementation of it in a public school system.” (John Lounsbury, 1995).