Yet Another School Shooting Reveals Yet Another Chalkboard Hero

washington-state-school-shooting-teacherMegan  Silberberger, a first year social studies teacher from a sleepy town just outside of Seattle, Washington, has become our most recent national chalkboard hero. This fearless educator courageously confronted teen gunman Jaylen Fryberg while he was firing bullets at a group of students eating lunch in the crowded cafeteria at Marysville Pilchuck High School on Friday, October 24. By the time the melee was over, Fryberg had killed one student and severely wounded four others, and was himself dead. But according to eyewitness accounts, the heroic teacher’s confrontation prevented what could have been a bigger massacre.

Erick Cervantes, a student at the school, described the attack and the action Megan took to protect the panicking students. “She heard the gunshots first and she came in running through the door, right next to it,” Cervantes said. “It started off with an argument, but then I looked back and there was just gunshots and just people falling down. She heard the gunshots first and she came in running through the door, right next to it. It wasn’t [a] wrestle. She just grabbed his arm, and it lasted like two seconds, and I heard another shot,” Erick added. That last shot, Cervantes reported, resulted in Jaylen Fryberg’s death from a self-inflicted wound.

Educator Randy Davis, president of the Marysville Education Association, said he taught at the school for twenty years and knows Megan Silberberger. He reported she was a student teacher last year and had just started her first year as a social studies teacher at the school. Davis described Silberberger as “your classic first-year teacher with high enthusiasm, a lot of passion for what she does.” He said he was “very proud of her efforts and her motivations.”

Megan Silberberger: a true chalkboard hero.

Margaret Hill McCarter: Teacher and Famous Author of Pioneer Novels

mccarter_margaretOften talented teachers establish a reputation for excellence in fields other than education. This is certainly the case of Margaret Hill McCarter, a well-known author who penned novels set against the background of the Kansas Prairies.

Margaret was born in Carthge, Indiana, on May 2, 1860, the daughter of Quaker parents named Thomas and Nancy (Davis) Hill. She attended Earlham College, a Quaker college, and in 1884 graduated from the State Normal School at Terre Haute, Indiana. She taught school in her home state for nine years, and then relocated to Kansas in 1888 to head the department of English at Topeka High School. There Margaret met and married Dr. William McCarter, on June 5, 1890. Soon the couple expanded their family to include three children.

Margaret began her writing career in 1901. Her early works included The Cottonwood’s Story, 1903; Cuddy’s Baby, 1907; In Old Quivira, 1908; Cuddy and Other Stories, 1908. In 1909 she wrote The Price of the Prairie, which dealt with settlers in post Civil War Kansas. These novels appealed to readers who appreciated her detailed descriptions of the landscape and events. Her later works include The Peace of the Solomon Valley, 1911; A Wall of Men, 1912; A Master’s Degree, 1913; Winning of the Wilderness, 1914; The Cornerstone, 1915; Vanguards of The Plains, A Romance of the Santa Fe Trail, 1917; and The Reclaimers, 1918.

In addition to her writing, McCarter devoted much time to her work civic organizations and clubs, and she became a well-known public speaker. She was active in the Republican Party, and this resulted in an invitation to address the 1920 convention. Margaret was the first woman to speak to the national gathering.

During her lifetime, McCarter received honorary doctorates from Washburn University and the College of Emporia. Today, Margaret Hill McCarter Elementary School in Topeka, Kansas, carries on the memory of this celebrated Kansas author.

Margaret McCarter passed away on August 31, 1938, and is buried in Topeka.

Andrew David Holt: Teacher, University President, and Tireless Champion for Public Education

andyholtOne of the most distinguished educators in the state of Tennessee was Andrew David Holt, a public school teacher who was also a tireless champion for public education in his state.

Andrew was born on December 4, 1904, in Milan, Tennessee, the son of two schoolteachers. His childhood was like that of most small-town boys of that time, centered on home, school, and church. His father was a strict disciplinarian, but young Andy was a mischievous youngster. He had an irrepressible sense of humor and engaged in the usual schoolboy antics. Young Andy was very interested in music; he played the trombone in the Milan High School Band and traveled to Europe with the Glee Club.

After his graduation from Milan High School, Andrew enrolled in Emory University. Following his college graduation in 1927, he became an elementary school teacher in West Tennessee, first in Milan, where he taught grades five through eight, and then in Humboldt, where he taught high school. He also served as a coach, a school principal, and a school superintendent.

After ten years of teaching, Andrew joined the faculty of West Tennessee State Teachers College, now known as the University of Memphis, where he served first as the principal of the Training School, then as the director of teacher training, and then as a professor of educational administration. While working in Memphis, Andrew enrolled in a graduate program at Teachers College of Columbia University, where he earned his Ph.D degree in 1937. After receiving his Ph.D., Andrew garnered a position as the executive secretary of the Tennessee Education Association (TEA). In this role, he recruited new members, kept teachers informed of legislative issues, spoke to community groups about the need for additional support for schools, and lobbied the state legislature for additional funds.

When World War II broke out, Andrew took a leave of absence from the TEA to serve with the Army Services Forces in Washington, DC. He was responsible for organizing pre-induction training programs for high school students that were designed to prepare them for induction if called upon.

When the war was over, Andrew returned to the TEA. While there, he developed a friendship with the governor and the state commissioner of education, and due to these friendships he was able to negotiate a teacher retirement plan and a statewide sales tax to help finance public education.

In 1949 Andrew became the president of the National Education Association, after having been elected first vice president in 1948. In 1950, he became the executive assistant to Cloide Brehm, the president of Tennessee University. In 1953 he moved on to become the university’s vice president, and after Brehm’s retirement in 1959, the university’s trustees appointed him to the position of university president, where he served until 1970. During Andrew’s tenure as president, the institution’s enrollment increased threefold, and the faculty and staff doubled in number. Eight new buildings were built on the university’s flagship campus in Knoxville. The university budget and state government funding for its support both increased fourfold.

Andrew Holt passed away in Knoxville, Tennessee, on August 7, 1987. Following his passing, the school’s administration building, completed in 1973, was named Andy Holt Tower, and a street on the university’s Knoxville campus, Andy Holt Avenue, was named in his honor.

Andrew David Holt: a true chalkboard champion.