He and his wife-to-be moved to New York in 1986 as an adventure, and Dave decided he wanted to go into teaching. "I was taking classes at Hunter College to get the core teaching requirements for my license. My advisor was contacted by a staff member at the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) who ran a program called the Junior High School Natural Science Program and who needed a teacher's assistant." Dave excitedly took the job and had his first experiences teaching science. "The program was for underprivileged kids who showed an interest in science, and they were great," he recalls warmly.
By 1989 Dave had taken all his education classes, and during that summer he helped run a workshop that showed teachers how to use the AMNH as a resource. During the workshop, a participant came to Dave and asked him if he was interested in learning about a job opportunity. The man worked at Middle School 44, which sits across the street from the Museum. MS 44 had an opening for a seventh-grade science teacher, and Dave jumped at the chance to begin teaching in the classroom. Early on in his teaching career, Dave got some good advice from a colleague. "I arrived three days before the kids were coming in, and I had no idea what I was teaching. He basically sat me down and said, 'What do you know? Because that's what you're going to teach,' and that's what I've tried to do ever since."
The first year was exhausting and exciting at the same time. "I really believe in teaching hands-on, and I just didn't have a huge bag of tricks at that point. So I was doing a lot of research, planning a series of dissections, writing labs up in a form that the kids could use," he explains. The next year was a little bit easier, and by the third year he'd begun to get some kind of personal life back. Dave has now been teaching for 11 years, and he teaches high school. "I have been lucky," he says simply. "I have always loved my job, from the very beginning."