I learned a hell of a lot from Dan Hodgins.
He was mentor, a friend, and a "bone shaker" for many of us in the field of Early Childhood Education. He was and will always be a champion for children, and protector of childhood.
I have so many great memories of time spent with him, it just doesn't seem like we had enough time. Dan died this past Saturday.
Interestingly enough, Dan and I talked about death quite a bit. It is one of those topics that isn't talked about all that much in our field, but is super important. All living things eat, all living things poop, and all living things die.
Dan and I recorded a podcast for awhile called "Shaking Bones." Dan was always shaking bones, even before I met him. To say I was honored to be asked to be his co-host would be putting it lightly. I loved recording with him. He was never afraid to touch on topics that were a bit edgy, or issues that sometimes weren't talked about much at all. We even talked about death during one of the episodes. (You can find all of our archived episodes over at playvolution hq)
We shared a number of resources and ways to talk about death with children, and well, aren't we all children or as Dan would say "former children?" I prefer to be a "blown up" not quite ready to be grown up ;). So, one of the ways to help children and ourselves through the process of grief is to share the memories.....
On one of his trips for Play Day here in Marquette, we held a session at the children's museum. This was Dan's favorite slide. It is an intestine, and there is a fart button at the bottom. He really liked the fart button.
Then, there was that one time when we were in Maryland at the first ever PEP Rally, and we sang "George Washington Bridge." Dan was never afraid to sing, and sometimes his singing was more like yelling. When you work with young children you've just got to sing! I remember Dan telling me that his favorite thing to do at IKEA was to sing in all of the bathrooms/showers. The last few times we have been there, my husband Allan and I did just that. If you haven't tried it, I highly recommend trying it.
I was so lucky to have been able to bring Dan to the U.P. a couple of times for Play Day. He sure loved to come and visit, the fall colors were always something he looked forward to. But he much prefered the warmer weather in Florida.
After I met Dan, he was persistent in convincing me to make my way to Good Stuff for Kids in Roseville, California. I made it there in 2014 and I sure did learn a lot of "good stuff" and made some life long friends, I found my play tribe there.
I don't have any pictures of the first time I met Dan, but I will never forget it. I was sitting in the back row at a training with my friend Carol. I had never heard of Dan Hodgins, but I had to get my training hours in. So, there I was in one of the back rows, thinking I was going to just coast through the day to get those hours in. I was talking to my friend Carol when she glanced up and saw a picture that Dan was showing, and she said... "Isn't that your backyard?" And it was... Dan was talking about outdoor classrooms and had found some photos from my blog. Carol stood up, pointed down at me and said "That's Amy's backyard!" and well, a number of photos in his presentation were from my yard. The standing joke with every slide was "Is this yours too?" He had me jump in to share a bit about my yard that day, and he convinced me to start "taking my show on the road."
There was one time where I was presenting at the MiAEYC conference (thanks to his nudging) where they put me in a tiny room. Dan told everyone in his session to come and listen to me. Needless to say, the room and hallway were packed and I ended up projecting in the hallway so everyone could see and hear. He told me that he knew I was going to need a bigger room!
I sure am going to miss Dan sharing things that made people think and offering ways for children to feel powerful....
I am going to miss his laughter, and sheer love of life and adventure.
I know he was really worried about what is going to happen to childhood and play,
I also now that he touched so many lives.
The power of the relationships he fostered, the seeds he planted....
I know that no one person can or should carry that torch he kept trying to pass, but together.... together we can be so much more.
Rest in play my friend.
You are deeply missed, but never forgotten.