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Dockterman Honored With 2024 Morningstar Family Teaching Award

Recognized for deep commitment to student wellbeing and academic success
Lecturer David Dockterman

Lecturer David Dockterman, Ed.D.‘88, is the 2024 recipient of the Morningstar Family Teaching Award, presented annually to a Harvard Graduate School of Education faculty member who makes an outstanding impact on their students and the Harvard community.

Dockterman was presented the award at HGSE’s Convocation exercises on Wednesday, May 22. The Morningstar winner is chosen based on nominations by HGSE students and a review process by a student advisory committee and the HGSE dean.

“It’s wonderful to be acknowledged by the students with this award. They bring such varied backgrounds and interests to HGSE that I’m convinced I learn more from them than they do from me each year,” says Dockterman. “It’s a privilege to help students reach their potential to make a difference in the world. And I remind them, the ‘world’ comes in many sizes. The world of daily interactions matters as much as the world of global policy.”

In the Morningstar nominations Dockterman was praised for his deep commitment to his students’ academics and overall wellbeing. They provided at length countless examples of empathy, educational passion, and a willingness to go above and beyond for students. Many noted the transformative nature of his teaching and coursework, with one calling Dockterman a “beacon of inspiration.”

“He was more than just a teacher,” one student wrote. “His classes became the reason I eagerly woke up every morning, reigniting my passion to make a positive impact in the world. With unwavering belief in each of us, he infused our learning journey with boundless energy, reminding us daily of our potential to create meaningful change. His enthusiastic presence sparked a fire within me, propelling me forward with renewed purpose and determination.”

Others noted the inclusiveness and compassion Dockterman creates in his classroom, with an innate ability to make students feel seen and heard.

“He created a classroom atmosphere where every question was valued and every student felt seen and heard. This is not easy to achieve,” a student wrote. “His respectful and caring approach fostered a sense of community and belonging among students, making the learning experience not just educational but also deeply enriching on a personal level.”

“He doesn't just teach; he invests in the lives and futures of those under his guidance,” wrote another. “His compassion and empathy create a nurturing environment where students feel valued, supported, and understood.”

Dockterman joined HGSE as a lecturer in 2016. His long-time Harvard course, Innovation by Design, helps foster an iterative, agile approach to evidence-driven innovation across a range of educational issues. Modules on Scaling Impact and Sustaining Impact take on the challenges of designing innovations that work with variable learners across different contexts in a manner that’s sustainable over time.

Dockterman is a fellow of the International Society for Design and Development in Education and a judge for the Global Learning XPRIZE. Current projects involve early literacy, effective math instruction, adult development, and civic engagement.  

Before his tenure at the Ed School, Dockterman helped found Tom Snyder Productions in 1982, an early pioneer in educational technology. For nearly four decades, Dockterman has balanced lives in the academic and publishing worlds, supporting the development of research-driven innovative practices while also lecturing at HGSE.

Dockterman has designed dozens of award-winning computer programs including Decisions, Decisions: Science Court – which was also an acclaimed TV show on ABC Saturday morning – and The Great Ocean Rescue. He also consults with publishers, entrepreneurs, and learning organizations on the translation of evidence into effective, scalable and engaging practice.  

“My courses and my career focus on how to design for and sustain measurable impact at scale,” says Dockterman. “Over decades of work in educational technology, I’ve identified tools and processes that facilitate that impact. Sharing those mechanisms with students to support their passions for driving positive change in the world is how I pursue impact at scale today.”

Established in 2000 with a gift from Faith Morningstar, Ed.M.’87, Ed.D.’96, and her husband, the Honorable Richard Morningstar, an alumnus of Harvard College, the Morningstar Family Teaching Award is intended to recognize faculty members that help create supportive environments for their students. Dockterman was nominated for the Morningstar Award by 23 different students, one of 44 different faculty members nominated by 125 different students overall.

Current faculty members who have received the Morningstar Award include Professors Andrew Ho, Jal Mehta, Catherine Snow, Paul Harris, and Monica Higgins; Professor of Practice Karen Brennan; Lecturers Alexis Redding, Gretchen Brion-Meisels, Aaliyah El-Amin, and Joe McIntyre; Senior Lecturers Joe Blatt and Elizabeth City; Principal Research Scientist Tina Grotzer; and Dean Bridget Terry Long.


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