When Todd Weaver ‘87 lost a front tooth horsing around in high school, he had no idea that the painful experience would set him on a professional path that would result, 35 years later, in a prestigious and rare accomplishment.
Weaver, a founder and partner at Weaver, Reckner & Reinhart Dental Associates in Harleysville and Souderton, Pennsylvania, is now among 1 percent of practicing dentists in North America to be awarded the highest honor by the Academy of General Dentistry (AGD).
The “Mastership Award,” also known as a Masters in The Academy of General Dentistry, recognizes a dentist’s commitment to both excellence and professional development through the fulfillment of demanding requirements that include a comprehensive exam and the completion of participation credits and practical courses across 16 disciplines of dentistry.
Even more significant – the “best part,” Weaver says – is that his business partner of 25 years, Dr. John Reckner, fulfilled his requirements as well.
The two honorees and their families traveled to New Orleans to attend a special convocation during the Academy of General Dentistry’s annual convention in early June. Both are now entitled to include the acronym MAGD in their professional titles.
Let’s go back to wrestling practice, where it all started. The emergency repair landed Weaver in the chair of Dr. Ira Wolfe, who took the time to explain his profession with the intrigued teenager.
Weaver declared pre-dental as his major when he attended Eastern Mennonite University. (The innocent assailant who knocked out the front tooth, Bryan Martin, would be his roommate for the next two years.) At EMU, he also met his future wife, Anne Kaufman, who graduated in 1988 with a degree in social work.
Four years later, in 1991, Weaver graduated from the Maurice H. Kornberg School of Dentistry at Temple University. From among his class, he was selected by the faculty for the Clinical Achievement Award – an early professional honor that Weaver attributes to his undergraduate preparation at EMU.
Rather than specialize, Weaver chose to open an expanded practice in general dentistry. He and his partners have advanced training in orthodontics, surgery for implant placement and endodontics (root canals), and have been diligent in other areas of study and practice.
“Dentistry is in my mind a perfect profession in that you can do everything from radiology, surgery, medicine, emergency care, and many other artistic expressions,” Weaver said.
His interest in the diverse, broad opportunities within the profession translated easily into the goal of achieving its highest professional honor, and when Reckner joined him as a business partner, the duo confirmed their commitment to lifelong learning and professional development.
“We even put it in writing 20 years ago, and then 10 years ago, made the final commitment to accomplish it,” Weaver said. “Three years ago, we tried to create a path for it to happen the same year…together.”
The commitment was significant: participation requirements meant some travel and time away from the practice and lecture presentations required considerable preparation time. Weaver took more than 20,000 photos of procedures over a six-year period.
It has been worth it, Weaver says. The process “advanced our professional skills and our practice, and has encouraged and supported the four other dentists who work with us in their own professional development. We’ve also formed close friendships with many dentists working in Pennsylvania.”
With this major professional accomplishment completed, Weaver and his partner can focus on their two busy offices and their continued commitment to dental service in Central America. For the past three years, Weaver and Reckner have led a team of dental hygienists and dental assistants to serve in Nicaragua through the Hearts, Hands and Smiles Foundation.
During the last trip in January 2018, one of those dental assistants was daughter Lara, an award-winning senior psychology major at EMU. She graduated in May and leaves in August for Laos to teach and mentor with Mennonite Central Committee’s SALT program. Son Seth, a junior pre-med major at EMU who is also a trained dental assistant, will accompany his dad on the next trip to Central America. Eldest daughter Keri Jane, the first to go through dental assistant’s training and work with her dad in that role, is a 2015 nursing graduate and works at the University of Pennsylvania’s Lancaster Women’s and Babies Hospital (she is enrolled at EMU this fall in the Master’s in Nursing program).
In case you’ve lost count, the Weaver family cumulatively holds four bachelor’s degrees, with one in progress, and one graduate degree (Anne earned her Master of Divinity degree from the seminary in 2016) with one more shortly to be in progress from EMU.
And one well-earned and much celebrated MAGD.