Our community lost a gentle hero early on Saturday morning. Don Hedrick spent nearly two decades as a government and history teacher in our School District and inspired generations of Santa Monica High School students, faculty, and staff with his relentless optimism, generous spirit, razor-sharp wit, and ebullient zest for life. Don’s life was senselessly, tragically, and prematurely cut short by cancer, and I am heartbroken for his parents, two teenage sons who are on the cusp of life, and his strong and gracious wife Nova who was by his side as he passed away.
There are so many students whose lives were forever changed for the better by Mr. Hedrick. Friends of mine would not have graduated from high school had it not been for his encouragement, and the faith that he showed in them. Years later, they still sing his praises and credit him with helping to turn their lives around. He believed so much in our community’s teachers and their noble profession—inspiring them and helping them to be the best they could be. Don left a successful career in business to teach because he so believed in the promise of public education, and was a tireless advocate for our schools and for social justice. He was humble and gracious, giving and thoughtful, but also passionate, with an often wicked sense of humor. And the grace and dignity with which he handled his deteriorating health condition showed what a tremendously selfless and big-hearted person he was. Throughout his ordeal, his concern was always for others—his family, his students, and his colleagues.
I will forever be grateful for having had the privilege of knowing Don Hedrick, and am so grateful for his mentorship and love—he believed in me, inspired me, and encouraged me to shoot for the stars. He will be terribly missed, but his inspiration lives on in the thousands of us whose lives he has touched. Rest in peace beloved maestro.
Santa Monica High School
Class of 1996
School Board Member