Elaine Goodale Eastman: Chalkboard Champion who Taught the Sioux

9780803218321_p0_v1_s260x420[1]Elaine Goodale Eastman was a talented teacher who established a day school on a Sioux Indian reservation in the territory of South Dakota. She believed very strongly that it was best to keep Native American children at home rather than transport them far away from their families to Indian boarding schools. She hadn’t taught on the reservation very long when she was promoted to the position of Superintendent of Indian Education for the Two Dakotas. In this capacity, she travelled throughout the five Dakota reservations, visiting the more than 60 government and missionary schools within her jurisdiction, writing detailed evaluation reports on each school she visited.

It was because of her work that Elaine just happened to be visiting the Pine Ridge Reservation when the tragic Wounded Knee Massacre took place. Following the massacre, she and her fiance,  physician Charles Eastman of the Santee Sioux tribe, cared for the survivors and wrote detailed government reports to accurately describe what happened.

In her later years, when America was experiencing a back-to-nature revival, Elaine and her husband operated Indian-themed summer camps in New Hampshire. Read more of the life story of this fascinating educator in Theodore D. Sargent’s biography The Life of Elaine Goodale Eastman, or an encapsulated version in  Chalkboard Champions, both available on amazon.

Joint Use Libraries: Connecting The School and the Community

TeacherAppleTN1[1]Those of us who work in the educational community are always contemplating effective ways to connect the school with the community. In my opinion, joint-use libraries are one of the best ways to accomplish this. I have had the pleasure of working in my school’s joint-use library for the past four years. During the day, the library is used by the students and staff. In the evenings, weekends, and school vacations, the library becomes the public facility which serves our local community.

Our joint-use library offers a wealth of resources to students and teachers, all conveniently located right here on our campus. Print books, reference materials, DVDs, audiobooks, and magazines are among the offerings available through the public library. And here’s the thing I think is really great: if a particular item is not available in the on-site collection, it can be ordered from one of the other 43 branches in the public library system. The item is transported to our campus where the student can check it out with their public library card, and when the patron is finished, the item is returned to its home branch. It’s very convenient, and best of all, it’s free!

In a joint-use facility, another convenience is added if the public library will provide a limited-access password to school personnel so that public library materials can be checked out to students and staff during school hours. The manager of the public library at our facility allows me to do this. This is just one example of the many ways we all work together to provide the best services and resources to everyone.

I absolutely adore the public librarians that are employed in our joint-use library. These dedicated public servants work tirelessly to provide our students and teachers with useful resources, pleasurable leisure reading materials, and meaningful teen programming. Our library has truly become a popular gathering place for kids after school, not only for the high school students, but for the junior high and elementary students in our neighborhood as well. And the public librarians accomplish all this in addition to providing the family story time and craft programs, adult programming, and community resources that many patrons have come to expect from their local library.

As modern educators, we are committed to the concept of lifelong learning, and joint-use facilities are a great way to foster this. The first time I saw a former student of mine come back to the library as an adult patron, I got really excited! It’s gratifying to know that we have instilled a love of books and learning that extends beyond the fleeting years our students spend with us. For this reason, every year in the fall I campaign to get public library cards into the hands of as many students as possible.

Many established communities already offer great library facilities, but in new or growing areas, it might be worth considering the installation of a joint-use library in your community!

Mary McLeod Bethune: A True Chalkboard Champion

biography_jbaker_clip_image001[1]Mary McLeod Bethune was born in 1875, the last of seventeen children born to former slaves in a log cabin on a plantation in Marysville, South Carolina. She was the only one of the McLeod children to be born into freedom.

As a young child, Mary showed an unusual interest in books and reading, but in those days it was, unfortunately, not the custom to educate African Americans. Nevertheless, a charitable organization interested in providing educational opportunities for children established a school near Mary’s home. Her parents could scrape together only enough money to pay the tuition for one of their children, and Mary was chosen.

When she grew up, Mary retained her strong desire to extend educational opportunities to other African Americans. In 1904 she founded the Daytona Normal and Industrial Institute for Negro Girls in Daytona Beach, Florida. This school is now known as Bethune Cookman University.

In her later years, Mary became a close friend of First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, and also a trusted advisor to President Franklin Roosevelt, who appointed her the head of the National Youth Administration in 1936. In 1945, she was appointed by President Harry Truman to be the only woman of color present at the founding meeting of the United Nations. This celebrated educator passed away peacefully in 1955.

For all her accomplishments, Mary McLeod Bethune is truly a chalkboard champion.

Maya Soetoro-Ng: The Chalkboard Champion with Presidential Connections

44904e0fd624864aad26934feeb7f86a[1]Maya Soetoro-Ng is a former high school history teacher, current university professor, and expert in comparative international education. She also happens to be the half-sister of President Barack Obama. Born in 1970 in Jakarta, Indonesia, she is the daughter of Anne Durham, Barack Obama’s mother, and Anne’s second husband, Indonesian businessman Lolo Soetoro. An accomplished educator in her own right, Maya’s work as a promoter of international relations would be amazing even if she did not enjoy her presidential connections.

Early in her career, Maya taught history at La Pietra Hawaii School for Girls and at the Education Laboratory School, both located in Honolulu, Hawaii. She has also taught courses as an Assistant Professor at the University of Hawaii, College of Education, and between 1996 and 2000, she developed and taught curriculum at The Learning Project, an alternative public middle school located in New York City. She has also served as an Education Specialist at the East-West Center, an organization that promotes understanding between the United States, Asia, and the nations of the Pacific.

Maya published a children’s book entitled Ladder to the Moon in 2011 and is currently working on a book about peaceful conflict resolution aimed at high school students. She also oversaw the 2009 publication of her mother’s dissertation, entitled Surviving Against the Odds: Village Industry in Indonesia, penning the foreword to the book and presenting it at the annual meeting of the American Anthropological Association.

Oklahoma’s Chalkboard Heroes Protect Students From Devastating Tornado

ap_children_alive_tornado_crop_nt_130520_wg[1][1]Once again our nation is reminded of the heroism of our teachers, who go above and beyond the call of duty to care for, protect, and comfort their students in crisis situations. Such was the case yesterday, in Moore, Oklahoma, a suburb of Oklahoma City, when a devastating tornado tore through this Mid-Western neighborhood. Two elementary schools, Briarwood Elementary and Plaza Towers Elementary, lay directly in the tornado’s path of destruction. Thankfully, all the students at Briarwood have been accounted for, and already there are eyewitness accounts from the rescued children describing what extraordinary measures their teachers took to ensure their safety and well-being. Every one of those educators is a chalkboard hero. This photo shows a teacher from from Briarwood evacuating a student. At Plaza Towers Elementary, there is still grave concern for 75 teachers and their students, most of them third graders, who are still missing. I know we will keep all of them in our thoughts, and hope with all our might for the best of outcomes.