Margaret Hamilton: A Wickedly Wonderful Chalkboard Champion

$RCMXYF2Not many people would recognize the name or photograph of actress Margaret Hamilton, but just about everyone knows the iconic movie roll she played. Bedecked in green make-up and black pointed hat, this pleasant face was the Wicked Witch of the West in MGM’s version of The Wizard of Oz. It’s ironic that this very sweet and loving former kindergarten teacher is best known for her her frightful disposition and her villainous behaviors, not to mention for scaring the daylights out of generations of little children. The true Margaret Hamilton was a lifelong advocate for educational causes, devoting much of her energy and money to benefit causes that improved the lives of children and animals. She passed away in 1985 at the age of 83.

Susan B. Anthony: She Championed Women’s Suffrage

$RYP0T1EMany people are familiar with Susan B. Anthony, a tireless champion for women’s suffrage who lived during the nineteenth century. Her political accomplishments are legendary. But did you know that this American civil rights champion was also a schoolteacher?

Beginning in 1939, Susan taught first at Eunice Kenyon’s Friends’ Seminary in New Rochelle, New York, and then at Canajoharie Academy in Canajoharie, New York. She left the profession in 1849 to devote her energy full-time to the women’s suffrage movement.

Although she did not live to see the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment guaranteeing women the right to vote, this historical achievement would not have been possible without Susan B. Anthony’s many years of devotion to the cause. You just know that someone who worked that hard for women’s rights worked equally diligently in the classroom.

Recognizing Chalkboard Athlete Frank Eufemia

$R7CXWEVRecognizing the value of making a contribution to the field of education, sometimes a professional athlete will become a teacher after they leave the game. This is true of major league baseball player Frank Eufemia.

Frank was born in 1959 in the Bronx, New York. He was drafted as a relief pitcher for the Minnesota Twins during the 1985 season. Frank finished the season with a record of 4 wins, two losses, an earned run average of 3.79, and thirty strike-outs.

This chalkboard athlete currently teaches physical education and health and coaches baseball at Pascack Hills High School in Montvale, New Jersey.

Olive Mann Isbell: The Chalkboard Champion of Mission Santa Clara

9781609496753_7b4ce5298022970d448371e911f0d532[1][1]A little-known figure in California history is educator Olive Mann Isbell, who is credited as being the first teacher in California. In 1846, when Olive was only 22 years old, she and her husband, Dr. Isaac Isbell, traveled west by wagon train. The territory had recently been severed from Mexico, and the Isbells arrived just as the Mexican army was poised to attack in an attempt to reclaim the land.

Olive and over two hundred American women and children were barricaded inside Mission Santa Clara de Asis, while the men were quickly drafted to defend the dilapidated fort. Inside the shelter, Olive, sensing the anxiety of the children, decided to organize a school to occupy their attention. The newly-arrived pioneer was well-suited to this work, being the niece of the famous educator Horace Mann and an experienced teacher from her home state of Ohio. When  Mexico finally laid down their arms and signed a truce with the United States on January 3, 1847, Olive’s Santa Clara Mission School became recognized as the first American school on California soil.

You can read more about this amazing educator in Women Trailblazers of California: Pioneers to the Present, available on amazon.

Honoring Chalkboard Hero Henry Alvin Cameron, an American Veteran

cameronface[1]As our nation pauses this Memorial Day to honor our men and women in uniform, we must recognize that many of our chalkboard champions have served not only in the classroom, but also in our county’s military. One such hero is Henry Alvin Cameron, an African American schoolteacher who served as an officer in the United States Army during World War I. Henry taught science and coached basketball at Pearl High School in Nashville, Tennessee. At the age of 45, well past the usual age of enlistment, Henry answered the call for African Americans to serve as officers in all-black regiments that were deployed to Europe. Henry served in France and, tragically, was killed in the Battle of the Argonne Forest just days before the war ended.

With Henry’s death, the educational community lost a talented and popular teacher, the African American community lost a respected leader, and our country lost a valiant serviceman. His sacrifice deserves to be remembered. I have devoted a chapter to this chalkboard champion in the book I am currently writing, tentatively entitled Chalkboard Heroes.