Many talented educators have made their mark in fields other than education. This is certainly true of former teacher Kate Capshaw, a Hollywood actress who is best known for her portrayal of Willie Scott in the movie Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. She is also married to famed director Steven Spielberg.
Kate was born on November 3, 1953, in Fort Worth, Texas, of humble origins. Her mother was a travel agent and beautician, and her father was an airline employee. When Kate was only five years old, her family moved to St. Louis, Missouri, where in 1972 she graduated from Hazelwood Central High School.
After her high school graduation, Kate earned a bachelor’s degree in history education and a master’s degree in special education, both from the University of Missouri. She accepted her first teaching position as a special education teacher at Southern Boone County High School in Ashland, Missouri. Later she transferred to Rock Bridge High School in Columbia, Missouri. During her years as an educator, she married and divorced Robert Capshaw, a school principal. The union produced one daughter.
After some years in the classroom, Kate moved to New York City to pursue a career in acting, landing her first role on the soap opera The Edge of Night. She also starred in Dreamscape in 1984, SpaceCamp in 1996 and How to Make an American Quilt in 1995. During the filming of Indiana Jones, Kate began a relationship with Spielberg, which eventually resulted in her conversion to Judaism and their marriage in 1991. The couple have five children in addition to Kate’s daughter from her first marriage.
Much has been said in the news this past week about the fiftieth anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. As an individual old enough to remember this historical event, this extensive news coverage triggers a strong and vivid memory of that painful day.
As an eight-year-old, I spent that day in my third grade elementary class. My fellow classmates and I had gone out to lunch. The school yard rang with the happy outbursts of girls playing hopscotch and boys playing dodge ball. We girls were all dressed in our little 60’s dresses with fitted bodices, puffed sleeves, defined waists, flared skirts, and peter pan collars. In those days, girls never wore pants to school. Most of us swept our hair up into pony tails; the boys sported buzz cuts. In the innocence of the hour, we enjoyed our play. Then the bell rang signalling our free time was over, and we reluctantly returned to our academic labors.
Once inside the classroom, however, a sight I had never seen before confronted us. My teacher was weeping, and this frightened me, because I had never seen a teacher cry before. We children counted on adults to be always strong and brave, to guide us and protect us in every circumstance. Through her tears, my teacher told us the president had been shot, and that he had died as a result of his injuries. Then she instructed us to go to the window, as the flag was to be lowered to half-mast, and she wanted us to witness this. Perhaps her true motivation was to momentarily direct our eyes and attention away from her grief-ravaged face. As she intended, I have never forgotten the slow and deliberate descent of our country’s fabric emblem, the lowering of which symbolized the depth of despair at our nation’s loss.
In the thirty-three years that I have been an educator, several catastrophic historical events have occurred during school hours—the explosion of the space shuttle Challenger, September 11th. Then it has been my duty to shepherd my students safely through a tumultuous day in our nation’s history. I cannot in all honesty say that I did this with better control of my grief than my third grade teacher did, but I did my best. When the signalling bell of history rings, that’s all any of us can ever do.
Many talented teachers are also accomplished in the political arena. This is certainly true of high school teacher James E. O’Neill, Jr., who also served in the House of Representatives for the state of Michigan.
James was born in Saginaw, Saginaw County Michigan, on May 26, 1929, and was a lifelong resident of that city. Saginaw is also the birthplace of Motown musician Stevie Wonder. James O’Neill earned his degrees from Central Michigan University and the University of Michigan. He served in the United States Army during the years of 1951 to 1953. In his younger years, he worked as a high school teacher and an elementary school principal in Hemlock Public Schools.
James was elected to the Michigan House of Representatives to represent the 85th District from 1967 to 1992, and the 95th District from 1993 to 1994. While serving in the Michigan State Legislature, he was a tireless advocate for schools and education, a respected source of information on school finance, and a key contributor to landmark changes made by legislation that established per-pupil student foundation grants for every school district in the state. “When you hear the old line that money will not buy a quality education, it’s almost always someone from a wealthy district,” he was expressed. “But if you talk about anything that would limit their money, they don’t want to hear it.” Today, this legislation is hailed by Democrats and Republicans alike as an innovative step toward improving equity among all state school districts. James was also a strong supporter of Saginaw Valley State University. He is credited with playing a critical role in securing much-needed state dollars for the college’s expansion. The arena in the Ryder Center on the campus was named in his honor in 1989. Highly respected, this talented politician and educator retired after twenty-eight years of dedicated service in the Michigan House. He was also a member of the American Legion and the NAACP.
This talented educator and politician passed away on December 31, 2002, at the age of 73.
Many talented educators were pioneers as well. A fine example of this is educator Orah Dee Clark, a teacher who is best known for being the first superintendent for the first school in Anchorage, Alaska.
Orah was born in 1875 in Firth, Nebraska. She started her teaching career in 1906, when she was hired by the Bureau of Indian Affairs to teach in the Territory of Alaska. She worked in a number of remote outposts, including Kodiak, Anvik, Tanana, and the Aleutian Islands. In 1915, she was named the first superintendent of the first school in Anchorage. After leaving her position in Anchorage, she helped establish schools up and down the railroad belt in towns including Wasilla, Eske, Fairview, and Matanuska. She also taught in Unga, Kennicott, Ouzinkie, Takotna, Kiana, Nushagek, and Moose Pass. This amazing pioneer concluded her fifty-one-year career when she retired in 1944. A champion of Native Alaskan rights, Orah always believed that all children should be integrated into schools that fostered individual growth. Throughout her career, she was a strong advocate for schools where Native Alaskans and white students would attend school together.
Clark Middle School in Anchorage was opened in 1959 and named in her honor. In the early days of the school, Orah visited the campus often. It is said the students enjoyed talking with her between classes and after school.In 1962, Orah was awarded the Scroll of Honor by the Cook Inlet Historical Society. In 1980, the school where she served as the first superintendent, the Pioneer School House, was added to the National Register of Historic Places. In 2009, Clark was inducted into the Alaska Women’s Hall of Fame. Her personal papers are held in the collection of the University of Alaska, Fairbanks, and the Anchorage Museum holds a collection of photographs she once owned. Every year, the Anchorage Women’s Club awards a high school scholarship for boys and girls named after Clark.
This remarkable educator passed away in 1965.
One of the most exceptional chalkboard champions in the field of math education is Timothy D. Kanold, a retired high school mathematics educator and author of math textbooks. At the age of 14, Tim decided he wanted to be a math teacher. “It never occurred to me to do anything else,” he once said. This outstanding educator earned his bachelor’s degree in education and his master’s degree in mathematics from the University of Illinois. He earned his doctorate in educational leadership and counseling psychology from Loyola University Chicago.
Timothy was employed for twenty-one years at Adlai E. Stevenson High School in Lincolnshire, Illinois. For the last seventeen of these years he served as his school’s director of mathematics and science. He retired from the teaching profession in 2007, and served as the president of the National Council of Supervisors of Mathematics from 2008 to 2009.
With his co-author Ron Larson, Timothy Kanold has written twenty-seven high school and junior high school mathematics textbooks. Even after his retirement, he continues to write and present for the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics on topics related to the principles and standards for school mathematics, as well as for AASA and NASSP. He is the lead author for NCTM’s update of the Teaching Performance Standards Document, and has presented more than six hundred speeches and seminars nationally and internationally over the past decade. The primary focus of these speeches is the creation of equitable learning experiences for all children in mathematics.
Timothy has earned much recognition for his outstanding work. He is the 1986 recipient of the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics Teaching,the 1991 recipient of the Outstanding Young Alumni Award from Illinois State University, the 1994 recipient of the Outstanding School Administrator Award from the Illinois State Board of Education, and the 2001 recipient of the Outstanding Alumni Award from Addison Trail High School. He also is the developer and presenter for New Dimensions in Leadership: Leading in a Learning Organization, a training program for future school administrators. Considered to be teacher of leaders, he currently presents leadership training for school administrators on behalf of Solution Tree and mathematics curriculum, instruction, and assessment workshops for NCTM and NCSM.
Timothy Kanold: a true chalkboard champion.