NEA Offers Free Downloadable Resources Related to Common Core

NEA_logo[1]The National Education Association (NEA) has prepared a handy online toolkit providing materials related to the upcoming implementation of the Common Core Standards, all available free. The toolkit provides a multitude of resources, links, reproducible handouts, short videos, webinars, and powerpoints to assist teachers in readying themselves for the Common Core. These resources, provided in a 53-page downloadable pdf file, are a collection of materials provided by a variety of sources.

As expected, information for Language Arts and mathematics are provided, but there are also plenty of resources for other content areas, including the social sciences, physical education, and the arts. An additional bonus is the section of information for special education students and English-language learners.

Some of the links will lead you to sample lessons, mathematics modules, and Smarter Balanced resources. Also provided is an extensive discussion of the type of text-dependent questions for close analytic reading that will be found on the revised standardized tests.

To access all of this great information, simply click on the following link:

NEA Common Core Standards Toolkit

Joanne Lyles White of Louisiana: She Was a Tireless Champion for the Needy


Very often chalkboard champions are well-known for their achievements outside of the classroom, and this is certainly true about Joanne Lyles White of Alexandria, Louisiana.

Lillian Joanne Lyles White was born in Lecompte, Louisiana, on September 12, 1929, the eighth of twelve children born to Samuel and Marie Lyles. She and her siblings were raised on Compromise Plantation in Lloyd’s Bridge, Louisiana. Her parents were sharecroppers for many years, but eventually they leased and operated a farm of over 800 acres. Although the Lyles family operated one of the most productive cotton farms in the South, they never owned their own home or land. Joanne’s parents believed the most important inheritance they could leave their children was the opportunity for a college education.

As a youngster, Joanne was actively involved in the local 4-H club, serving as its president when she was in high school. In an era of Jim Crow laws and the Ku Klux Klan, many of her closest friends and playmates were the sons and daughters of African-American sharecroppers. At a very early age, Joanne became a champion for civil rights, a cause she publicly and vigorously supported throughout her entire life.

Joanne graduated from Lecompte High School at the age of sixteen. In 1950, she graduated from Louisiana State University with a bachelor’s degree in speech and social studies. After graduating from college, the young teacher accepted her first job at Bolton High School in Alexandria, Louisiana. She held this position from 1950 to 1963. She taught World History, American History, government, economics, and speech. She also served as the coach of Bolton High School’s speech and debate team. The indefatigable teacher was instrumental in creating a statewide forensics circuit; she founded and became the first president of the Louisiana High School Speech League and Tournament of Champions.

On April 30, 1951, Joanne married Paul Donald White, Sr. Together, they had six children.

All her life, Joanne was a tenacious and passionate advocate for the poverty-stricken, the dispossessed, single mothers, orphaned children, and the disabled. In 1989, she was one of the founding members of Hope House, a homeless shelter for women, mothers, and their children. The former teacher arranged for the donation of an expansive historic home on Bolton Avenue, and she raised both private and public funds to renovate and operate the facility. Since its creation, Hope House has provided thousands of women and children a new beginning. The dedicated teacher was especially honored when Hope House was selected by President George H.W. Bush to receive the 1,000 Points of Light Award.

After her second grandchild, Lamar Jr., was diagnosed with cerebral palsy, Joanne created Angel Care, an early childhood development center that provided networking opportunities and resources for families with mentally or physically challenged children. She was also the co-designer of the Aiken Optional School, an alternative school program to help students at risk of dropping out of school or who had already dropped out. In addition, she helped create the Kuumba Center, an inner-city educational and recreational institution.

In 1983, Joanne became one of the founding members the Shepherd Center, an ecumenical ministry comprised of 29 church congregations that worked together to assist the poor and the dispossessed.  As a part of her work with the Shepherd Center, Joanne created the Christmas Cheer for Children program, which provided computerized cooperative aid to over 4,000 children annually. She was also a founding member of the Rapides Parish Chapter of Habitat for Humanity, an executive committeewoman for the Job Training Partnership Act State Council, the chairperson of the State Committee on Illiteracy and Education, the chairperson of the Rapides Parish Workforce Investment Board, and a founding member of the Central Louisiana Food Bank. This tireless educator also worked with the governor’s office and the Department of Corrections to spearhead and chair a task force that investigated the treatment of incarcerated women and juveniles.

Among her many honors and awards, Joanne was named the recipient of the National Association of Social Worker’s Public Citizen of the Year Award, the Lions Club’s Outstanding Citizen Award, the Louisiana Methodist Church’s Children and Families Service Award, the Young Women’s Christian Association’s Outstanding Community Leader Award, the Zeta Phi Beta’s Outstanding Community Leadership Award, the Sojourner Truth Award, the Central Louisiana Professional Women’s Network’s Visionary Award, and Cenla Focus’s Cenla-ian of the Year. Joanne’s work was also commended by the Louisiana Department of Safety and Corrections, the Louisiana Department of Education, the State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, the Rapides Parish Police Jury, and the Alexandria Human Relations Commission.

This very amazing chalkboard champion passed away in Alexandria, Louisiana, on March 9, 2011, at the age of 81.

Math Teacher Kay Tipton: A True Chalkboard Champion

Tipton[1]Kay Tipton is an award-winning mathematics teacher who taught at Vestavia Hills High School, a public high school in Vestavia Hills, Alabama, a suburb of Birmingham. She had been at the school since its establishment in 1970, and her career there spanned thirty years, until her retirement in 2007.

At Vestavia  Hills, Kay taught algebra, trigonometry, her notoriously difficult Advanced Placement-level calculus, and other math courses. She also served as Math Department Chair. In addition to all this, the remarkable educator founded the Vestavia Hills High School Math Team in 1975.  Her math teams consistently ranked among the best in the United States in national competitions such as Mu Alpha Theta. Many of her students qualified for the prestigious United States of America Mathematical Olympiad. The math team’s entire senior class of 2005 also qualified for the American Invitational Mathematics Examination, and nearly all of them became National Merit finalists.

Kay’s approach to helping her students understand the sometimes overwhelming subject matter in their math courses was to encourage them to simply focus on the learning. Former student Mingham Ji recalled that Kay was supremely confident of their abilities. He once expressed, “As Mrs. Tipton often reminded us, ‘Just worry about the material, and the grades will take care of themselves.’ Needless to say, she was right. By believing in the best her students had to offer, Mrs. Tipton taught us to expect more from ourselves.”

This amazing educator also demonstrated a high level of commitment to her students outside of the classroom. She would stop and talk with students in the hallway, take them to breakfast before math tournaments, and once she even counseled them after the sudden death of a classmate. “It’s hard for me to believe how much she gave herself to us,” expressed Ji, “but she dedicated herself to teaching solely because of her students and the belief that a solid education would help their talents shine.”

In both 1991 and 1992, Kay was named the winner of the Distinguished High School Mathematics Teaching Edyth May Sliffe Award by the Mathematical Association of America.  She is a three-time winner of the White House Commission of Presidential Scholars Distinguished Teacher Award, and a recipient of both the Golden Apple Teacher of the Year Award and Cornell University’s Outstanding High School Educator Award.



Civil War Veteran Francis Parker: A Champion of the Progressive Movement in Education

Francis_W_Parker[1]One of the most famous pioneers of the progressive movement in education was Francis Wayland Parker. In a time when modern ideas were not popular, this innovative educator promoted a philosophy that education should not emphasize standardization, rote memorization, and isolated drill. Rather, he advocated a curriculum that addressed the development of the whole student, including the child’s intellectual,  physical, and moral growth. He created a model program that was strong on language development and geared towards teaching students to think and make decisions independently. Today we would recognize his strategies as teaching critical thinking skills and creative problem-solving.

Francis Parker was born on October 9, 1837, in Bedford, New Hampshire. At the tender age of 16 he became the village teacher, and when the Civil War broke out seven years later, this young educator enlisted as a private in the 4th New Hampshire Volunteer Army. It wasn’t long before he was promoted to lieutenant, then to lieutenant colonel, and then to commander. In May, 1865, Colonel Parker was captured by Confederate forces and held as a prisoner of war in North Carolina. When the war was over, this Civil War veteran resumed his teaching career, first as a teacher, and then as a principal. In 1872, the continuously evolving educator travelled to Germany to study pedagogy at the Humboldt University of Berlin. When he returned, he became the coordinator of a highly-acclaimed teacher-training institution In Chicago, Illinois.

Colonel Parker is an American hero in so many ways, and is undoubtedly a chalkboard champion in the truest sense of the word. You can read more about this remarkable historical figure in my upcoming book, tentatively entitled Chalkboard Heroes.

Teacher Charmaine Tavares: She Became a Maui Mayor

mayor_soc_cropped_164[1]Many talented educators earn recognition in fields other than education, and Hawaiian politician Charmaine Tavares is a perfect example of this. For fifteen years Charmaine was employed as a teacher, coach, counselor, and athletic director in public schools on Maui. She also served as the mayor of Maui from 2007 to 2011.

Charmaine was born in 1943 in the town of Hana, on the island of Maui. She is one of three children born to Hannibal and Harriet Tavares, and is descended from Japanese and Portuguese immigrants who settled in the islands. As a youngster, Charmaine attended Kaunoa Elementary School and Maul High School, but she graduated from St. Anthony High School. After she finished high school, she enrolled at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, the flagship campus of the University of Hawaii system.  The campus is located in Manoa, an affluent neighborhood of Honolulu. There Charmaine earned her bachelor’s degree in education in 1967 and completed the requirements for her teaching credential in 1970.

Charmaine’s career in education spanned from 1967 to 1982, when she accepted a position as the program director of the Upward Bound program for Maui Community College. She worked in this capacity from 1983 to 1989. The hardworking teacher served as the director of the Department of Parks and Recreation for Maui County from 1989 to 1995. While there, she was instrumental in initiating the Pals program, an educational and recreational program for local children of working families.

The former educator was elected to the Maui County Council in 1996, and served on the Council until 2006. She was elected Mayor of Maui in 2006, and served in this capacity from 2007 to 2011, becoming well-known for her collaborative leadership style. While in office, Charmaine became an advocate for programs that supported economic growth, transportation, agriculture, and the elderly.

Charmaine Tavares, a true chalkboard champion.