Chalkboard Champion and Four-Star Army General Lewis Blaine Hershey

gen_hershey_formal[1]Many chalkboard champions serve in ways other than in the classroom. One example of this is Lewis Blaine Hershey, a four-star general in the United States Army who served his country in the military for sixty-two years.

Lewis Hershey was born on September 12, 1893, in Steuben County, Indiana. As a youngster, Lewis attended the local public schools. After his high school graduation, Lewis trained as a teacher at Tri-State College, now known as Trine University. After earning a bachelor of science in 1912 and a bachelor of arts in 1914, he taught at local elementary schools and served as a school principal in Flint, Indiana.

In 1911, Lewis enlisted in the Indiana National Guard. Almost immediately, his guard unit was called to active duty on the Mexican border, where they served until December, 1916. That year he was commissioned as a second lieutenant. His unit was again called to federal service during World War I, when Lewis was deployed to France as part of the American Expeditionary Force.  After the war ended, Lewis continued his education at both  the Command and General Staff College and the Army War College, graduating in 1933. Then Lewis taught military science at Ohio State University.

In 1936, Lewis was assigned to the General Staff in Washington, D.C. In 1940 President Franklin Roosevelt promoted the former teacher to brigadier general, and in 1941 President Roosevelt designated him Director of the Selective Service. Lewis was the longest-serving director in the history of the Selective Service System, and holding the position until 1970. His years of service spanned World War II, the Korean War, and the Viet Nam War.  General Hershey was one of only three generals in the history of the United States Army to have served as a general during three major conflicts. Despite this distinction, his service during the Viet Nam War generated a great deal of controversy.

Lewis retired from the Army as a four-star general in 1973, at the age of 79. Suffering from heart failure, he passed away in Angola, Indiana in 1977, and was buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

Sandra Adickes: The Chalkboard Champion of a Mississippi Freedom School

adickes2[1]Thirty-year-old Sandra Adickes was an energetic and idealistic high school English teacher from New York City the year she ventured south into Mississippi to teach in a Freedom School. The goal of the summer program was to empower the black community to register to vote and to help bridge some of the gap of educational neglect that had long been a tradition in that Jim Crow state. Both blacks and whites realized that only through education and participation in the democratic process could African Americans ever hope to improve their lot.
The enterprise was not without danger. On the first day of Freedom Summer, three workers involved in the program disappeared while investigating the firebombing of the church facility designated for their voter recruitment activities. Six weeks later, as Sandra Adickes conducted her classes in Hattiesburg, the badly beaten and bullet-ridden bodies of the three missing men were discovered buried in an earthen dam in nearby Neshoba County.
At summer’s end, Sandra accompanied her fearless students when they decided to integrate the Hattiesburg Public Library. Sandra was arrested in the effort. Read her riveting story, and what became of her courageous students, in her book Legacy of a Freedom School. You can also find a chapter about this remarkable teacher in my book, Chalkboard Champions., available from amazon.

Lisa Niver Rajna: The Chalkboard Champion Who Teaches Her Students That Science Isn’t Scary

Lisa_Niver_Rajna[1]Lisa Niver Rajna, an elementary science teacher from Los Angeles, California, is an amazing chalkboard champion. Lisa was born in Boston, Massachusetts in 1967, and earned her master’s degree in education from the University of Pennsylvania. In addition to her career as a professional educator, she is also a sought-after motivational speaker, travel agent, and travel writer.

Lisa is well-known in science teacher circles for her instructional strategies that emphasize her students use technology and real world connections to explore their passions and to work towards solving today’s most complex issues. She has also developed a successful summer science camp for students and maintains a science-based web site entitled Science Isn’t Scary. In 2009, Lisa founded the Los Angeles Science Teachers Network (LASTN),  a professional development network that by May, 2012, involved over seventy teachers and forty schools. The effort has been praised by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Lisa Niver Rajna has published many articles in online and offline magazines, including National Geographic, The Huffington Post, The Guardian, and The Jewish Journal. She was a 2012 nominee for the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Math and Science Teaching.

Here is a link to her educational web site: Science Isn’t Scary

Here is a link to her travel web site: We Said Go Travel

Chalkboard Champion and Actress Myra Davis Hemmings

Many chalkboard champions have enjoyed successes in fields other than education. One such individual is Myra Davis Hemmings, a teacher of English and drama at Phyllis Wheatley High School in San Antonio, Texas. Myra’s career as an educator spanned fifty-one years, but she can also boast about significant accomplishments in theater and film.

This gifted teacher and actress was born in Gonzales, Texas, in 1887, the daughter of Henry Davis and Susan (Dement) Davis. After graduating from Riverside High School in San Antonio, Texas, in 1909, Myra enrolled in Washington D.C.’s all-black Howard University. During her college years, Myra had the distinction of being president of both the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority and the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority. She graduated from Howard in 1913 and immediately began her career in the classroom.  Later, Myra returned to the university to earn her master’s degree from Northwestern University’s Speech Department in 1947. In her later years, she was a national vice president, a former regional director, and an active member of the National Council of Negro Women. She was also a member of the NAACP.

In 1922, Myra married John W. Hemmings, a former Broadway actor. As a drama teacher, Myra directed plays from the 1920s to the 1950s at the Carver Community Cultural Center in San Antonio. She also became active as a director in the San Antonio Negro Little Theater.She and her husband helped to organize the Phyllis Wheatley Dramatic Guild Players. In addition to all this, the talented teacher appeared in three films.

Myra  Davis Hemmings passed away in San Antonio in 1968. She was 73 years old. Both the classroom and the theater miss this chalkboard champion greatly.

Charlotte Forten Grimke: The Chalkboard Champion of Emancipated Slaves

Charlotte-Forten-11384-1-402[1][1]One of the most heroic teachers I have ever heard of is an African American woman named Charlotte Forten Grimke. This amazing woman, who was born a free black in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on August 17, 1837, became a teacher of newly emancipated slaves in Port Royal, South Carolina, during the Civil War. After the Union Army pushed through the area, freeing the slaves along the way, the government recognized that these newest citizens desperately needed assistance in basic literacy skills and some vocational training on how to take care of themselves. Charlotte agreed to travel to the South, despite the high risk to her own personal freedom and her rather delicate health. While the war raged on around them, she set up a school and diligently held classes for students who ranged in age from kinders to grandparents. When the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, an all-black regiment, suffered high casualties at Fort Wagner on July18, 1863, Charlotte left her classroom with a substitute teacher and went to the soldiers’ aid as a nurse and letter writer at the nearby hospital where the injured had been taken.
You can read her fascinating story in her own words through her very copious journals, The Journals of Charlotte Forten Grimke, or you can read a shorter chapter about her life in my book, Chalkboard Champions. Either way, the story is a good read.