Chapter Six: Cotyledon Productions

In the last ten years, Tom has developed a business dedicated to novel educational offerings on the web. Cicero, the quintessential Cotyledon offering, is a revolutionary platform for teaching politics, history, and civics to middle and high school students. Much of the content for this website was developed by high school students living on the south side of Chicago. With his skills as a teacher and substantial commitment and compassion, Tom worked with these students to develop a multimedia environment that brings to life the history of the Civil Rights movement along with other significant moments in American history.

Noah working on a new innovation

Noah working on a new innovation

My father Tom de Boor has included me in a lot of the work of Cotyledon Productions including National Park Service websites, PBS, Cicero, Pet Town, Pet Certification, and NSF. Every year, I attend the PBS kids meetings in Washington, D.C. where we talk about new ways of making PBS better. Two years ago, I went to a National Park Service meeting to help develop sites for kids to learn more about nature and history. I helped build and review a homework help site on Discovery Channel. My father is thinking about building a birding website and takes me out birding often. In short, none of this would be possible without my dad. I’ve enjoyed all of it; I can’t wait for my next job.

— Noah Hermes de Boor, sixth grader

Tom has been a terrifically creative and fun colleague…in a world where those qualities aren’t necessarily taken for granted. He has been a reliable source of expertise and information and a true collaborator; never reluctant to offer up a “crazy idea” that, when he explains it, doesn’t seem so crazy. He is opinionated, but diplomatic and has provided great momentum for our work. And perhaps most importantly, he shares our values and commitments to making the learning experience better for all of us.

— Jeanne Century, Ed.D., Director of Science Education, Research & Evaluation
Center for Elementary Mathematics and Science Education
University of Chicago

7 Responses to Cotyledon

  1. Eric Ginsburg says:

    Happy 50th Tom!

    Your birding experience is still missed in Chicago, although you left behind many teachings and memories, including how to make the call of an Eastern Screech-Owl, the sighting of a Sutton’s Warbler, and more importantly, why someone should go looking for a Sutton’s Warbler, even if others wouldn’t count it. Thanks again, from me and Tobias.

  2. Rachel Lyon says:

    It seems like only yesterday when we all arrived in Sundance to help re-imagine public broadcasting! Happy, happy birthday and decade birthday to Noah!

    Meanwhile, I’ve been madly making films, including “Race to Execution,” “Juror Number Six,” and about to launch, “Etruscan Odyssey.” Also put together a national symposium on Media and Human Rights last spring. Never a dull moment!

    Jeremy just turned 18 and is in his final year of high school. He is an amazing artist — but nonetheless a teenager!

    Much good cheer for your 50th and the next stage of the Life and Times of Tom deBoor!
    Rachel Lyon and Jeremy Lyon Freedberg

  3. Bill Hughes says:

    Happy Birthday to Tom!

    I’m glad I got to know you through our work together in helping Pearson uncover opportunities to directly help college students through their academic pursuits and beyond. You thought deeply and passionately about these issues, and you were a great partner for me in teasing apart the wheat from the chaff. You helped me find the companies that we should look at, and you had terrific insights on what would work and what wouldn’t.

    More than anything, you were great with people – whether it be internal colleagues who might have some political sensitivities to the work we were doing, or potential partners we were considering to work with. Your light touch combined with clarity of mind and unbridled enthusiasm made for a great combination.

    I am indebted to you for your gracious efforts with Pearson, and I look forward to the chance for us to work together again.

    Happy 50th, Tom!

    Bill Hughes
    Director, Business Development & Innovation

  4. John Katzman says:

    Happy birthday, Tom!

    I turned 50 almost exactly a year before you, and it’s no picnic. Actually, it’s a movable feast; enjoy! :)

    You are an incredible talent, and have help set the path of online education. 2010 could be when it all starts to come together to dramatically change both K-12 and higher education, and I look forward to sharing your next decade, as a friend and colleague!


  5. Gavrilo Gnatovich says:

    There is a whole new future out there and I can’t wait to get back to chasing it along with you and Mike. Happy Damn Birthday.

  6. Bobbi Kurshan says:

    I have known Tom from when he started at AOL and he understood better than anyone there the power of the community for changing education. The Homework Help service was ahead of its time in the areas of tutoring, collaboration and online learning.

    Tom is one of the most thoughtful educators I know and he has a unique ability to put in understandable terms very innovative ideas. Over the years, working with Tom has always been special as he brings to the conversation the right questions, creative ideas and the ability to always “think out of the box.”

    — Bobbi Kurshan, Executive Director of Curriki – the Global Education & Learning Center

  7. Sheila Smith says:

    Tom, the moment you walked into our office and showed us CICERO, I knew this is a guy that I can relate to. Over the years, I have been struck by your incredible energy, creativity, and passion. We have had successes with CICERO and some failures but more importantly I know there are kids who have been exposed to our Founding Documents and American Government through Cicero and they will carry on your passion and love for this country. There is a wonderful quote by Antoine de Saint-Exupery – my birthday gift to you:

    “A man’s age is something impressive, it sums up his life, maturity reached slowly and against many obstacles; illnesses cured, griefs and despairs overcome; unconscious risks taken; maturity formed through so many desires, hopes, regrets, forgotten things, loves, a man’s age represents a fine cargo of experience and memories”

    Ed and I hope you have many more memories to add to the cargo of life. HAPPY BIRTHDAY
    Love, Sheila

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