"Give a Piece a Chance." — Books. Blog. Pie Classes. And a Pinch of Activism.

A Birthday Card for Peter Schoenfeld

Dear Peter,
Happy 50th Birthday! I hope you are eating some birthday cake pie to celebrate your special day. I’ve been meaning to tell you how impressed I was with your very first pie. Thanks for sending the pictures. Your rhubarb pie looks delicious and your food photography shows great promise too. And while I admire your improvisation of using the iron skillet as a pie plate, you have made it easy for me to figure out a birthday present to get for the “man who has everything.” A pie plate, of course!

I also wanted to tell you how flattered I was that your inspiration for this pie came from meeting Christine and me that weekend we were camping in the RV at the beach. It still amazes me how watching the dolphins surf in the waves that foggy morning and seeing our dogs romp together in the sand led to Christine inviting you back to the RV to join us for cherry pie and coffee. One really should be careful about letting strangers into their campers! But you showed such enthusiasm for the pie, and with the excitement, appetite, innocence — and drool — of a Golden Retriever puppy, how could we refuse you a slice?! You weren’t even deterred by the fact it was gluten-free! And then we learned, as you politely removed stray cherry pits from your mouth (sorry about that!), that not only are you incredibly nice, you are a worldly, educated, funny, eligible bachelor who retired early and loves to cook Italian food. You are a philanthropist and educator, devoting your time to creating charter schools. AND you own a beach house up from the RV park. With a hot tub! If all that doesn’t qualify you for a spot on “Millionaire Matchmaker,” now we can add to the list “pie baker,” guaranteed to cause women to swoon over you like a taller version of Justin Bieber.

My birthday wish for you is that you continue to have the good health and strength that you enjoy now so you can continue to do good things for others. Your contribution to the world is inspiring. You’ve picked education as your cause. Education is critical to the well-being of our youth and our society as a whole (as if I have to tell you!) You could as easily spend your stock options living on yacht like a playboy. Instead with Big Picture Learning you are setting an example for others of what early retirement can be. Should be.

And now that you’ve been bitten by the pie bug, I wonder where that will lead. Will we see pie baking classes added to the curriculum at the charter schools? Or will you be opening a pie shop somewhere on the California coast! Whatever you do, I hope the next 50 years will be as fulfilling as the first.

Happy Birthday, Peter!