Innovative Educator and Chalkboard Champion Amos Bronson Alcott

classic[1]Amos Bronson Alcott was born in 1799 in Wolcott, Connecticutt. A prominent member of the Transcendentalist movement, Amos was a self-educated man. Often called the American Socrates, he is known for his progressive and innovative approach to education. He disliked the rote memorization, lecture, and drill so prevalent in the schools of his day. Instead, he focused on the students’ personal experiences, advocated a more conversational style of interaction with pupils, and avoided traditional corporal punishments. Amos first taught in Cheshire, Connecticut, and later at the famous Temple School in Boston. He was one of the very first teachers to introduce art, music, nature study, and physical education into his curriculum. He was also an abolitionist and an advocate for women’s rights. This remarkable educator is probably best known, however, for being the father of Louisa May Alcott, the author of the classic American novel Little Women. This amazing chalkboard champion passed away from natural causes in 1888.

Chalkboard Politician Daniel Kahikina Akaka of Hawaii

Akaka-072806-18268- 0032Throughout history there have been a number of educators who have gone on to serve in political office. One such educator is Daniel Kahikina Akaka, a Native Hawaiian born in Honolulu, Hawaii, in 1924.

Daniel Akaka is also a veteran, having served in the United States Army Corps of Engineers during World War II. When the war ended, he used his GI bill to enroll at the University of Hawaii, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in education in 1952 and his master’s degree in 1966. After earning his teaching credential, Daniel was employed as a high school teacher in Honolulu from 1953 to 1960;. In 1960 he was promoted to a position as a vice principal, and in 1969 he became a high school principal. In 1969, Daniel went to work in the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare as a chief program planner.

A multi-talented individual, Daniel Akaka was elected to the US House of Representatives in 1976, serving seven terms. In 1990, Daniel was appointed to fill a vacant seat in the US Senate that occurred upon the untimely death of Senator Spark Matsunaga. Subsequently Daniel was elected to that position in his own right, and he served there until 2013 when he retired.

Daniel Akaka, an outstanding chalkboard champion who was also an outstanding politician.

Chalkboard Champions Added to Another Prestigious University Library Collection

chalkboard2[1]I’m very excited to learn that my book, Chalkboard Champions: Twelve Remarkable Teachers who Educated America’s Disenfranchised Students, has been added to the collection of another prestigious university library. The book can now be found at Hunter College, located in New York on Manhattan’s Upper East Side.

Hunter College was established by Irish immigrant Thomas Hunter in 1870. The school functioned as the first teacher training institution in New York City. Julia Richman and Sandra Adickes, both distinguished educators, graduated from Hunter, and both are featured in my book. Julia Richman (1855-1912) was the first woman to be appointed superintendent of schools in New York City. She committed her entire professional life to helping Eastern European Jewish immigrants assimilate to American life. Sandra Adickes (1933-present), is a professor emerita from Winona State University in Minnesota and is known for her valiant work in 1964 in a Mississippi Freedom School in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. You can read more about both of these remarkable teachers in Chalkboard Champions, available from amazon.

Hunter joins the University of the Pacific, the University of Southern Mississippi, Rutgers University, and Salem State in including my book in their collections. What an honor!

Dorothy C. Stratton: The Chalkboard Champion Who Served Her Country During WWII

$RI66G6UMany chalkboard champions throughout history have served heroically in our nation’s military and reserves. High school teacher Dorothy C. Stratton is a notable example of this tradition.

Dorothy was born the daughter of a minister in Brookfield, Missouri, on March 24, 1899. She graduated from Ottawa University in Kansas in 1920, earned her master’s degree from the University of Chicago, and was awarded her Ph.D. from Columbia University.

Dorothy taught in public high schools in her home town of Brookfield, in Renton, Washington, and then in San Bernardino, California. From there she joined the faculty of Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, serving as the Dean of Women and an assistant professor of psychology.

When World War II broke out, Dorothy served her country as a member of the selection board for the WAC (Women’s Army Corps), and she also served as a lieutenant in the WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service). In 1942 she went to Washington, DC, to organize the Women’s Reserve of the US Coast Guard. She served in this capacity until 1946, rising to the rank of captain. She was awarded a Legion of Merit award for her wartime service.

In her later years, Dorothy served from 1947 to 1950 as the director of personnel for the International Monetary Fund, and from 1950 to 1960, she was employed as the national executive director of the Girls Scouts of America.

Dorothy C. Stratton passed away in Lafayette, Indiana, in 2006 at the age of 107. In 2008, the US Coast Guard named a national security cutter, the third of its kind, the USCGC Stratton in her honor.

Chalkboard Champion Pro Baseball Pitcher Steven Delabar: The Remarkable Substitute Teacher and Coach

delabarpic_large_medium[1][1]When we think about chalkboard champions, let’s not forget our nation’s cadre of amazing substitute teachers. Here’s an uplifting story of one such sub. His name is Steven Delabar, and he just happens to be a major league relief pitcher for the Toronto Blue Jays.

Steven, a native of Kentucky, attended Central Hardin High School and Volunteer State Community College. He was drafted by the Anaheim Angels in 2002, and was signed by the San Diego Padres in 2003, making his professional debut in 2004. He spent several years in the minor leagues.

Unfortunately, before he could work his way into big league play, Steven suffered a severe elbow injury in 2009 that appeared to end his career. Undaunted, he rolled up his shirtsleeves and started working on his teaching credential. He became a substitute teacher in the same school district where his wife was an educator, and accepted a position as an assistant baseball coach at John Hardin High School in Elizabethtown, Kentucky. While there, Steven helped implement a recently-developed velocity-improvement program for his student athletes. To test the program’s efficiency, he completed the exercises himself, and before long, Steven discovered that he could pitch as well or better than before his injury. When a scout from the Seattle Mariners watched the twenty-eight-year-old coach pitch in 2011, Steven found himself back in professional baseball as a minor league player. His potential was quickly realized, though, and that same season saw his major league debut. The next year, Steven became a Toronto Blue Jay. Steven Delabar is one of the few major league baseball players who have struck out four opponents in a single inning, and he also went to the 2013 All-Star game, striking out Buster Posey in only five pitches, an impressive feat.

Hopefully, Steven Delabar will enjoy a long and successful career as a professional baseball player, but it would not be a surprise if some day he takes his considerable talents and dedication to students back to the classroom as a full-fledged teacher and coach!