Comic Book Artist and High School Art Teacher Franco Aureliani

f0d86838-3a14-3caf-9ea7-ebd8ba059ea9Often talented educators win acclaim in fields other than teaching. Such is the case for Franco Aureliani, an art teacher at Carmel High School in Carmel, New York. Franco has taught courses in studio art, portfolio preparation, drawing and painting, and advance placement studio art.

In addition to teaching, Franco is a comic book writer and artist. With Art Baltazar, Franco won acclaim for co-writing the DC Comics series Tiny Titans, for which he won an Eisner Award for Best Publication for Kids in both 2009 and 2011.He also won an Eisner Award for Early Readers in 2014 for Itty Bitty Hellboy. The two have made a name for themselves in the comic industry for their work on some of the most fun and ageless comics of all time.

Praise for Chalkboard Heroes

lens17912345_1327988825teachers-are-heroesPraise continues to mount for the new book, Chalkboard Heroes, a collection of inspirational biographical sketches recognizing twelve teachers from American history who were both exemplars of the teaching profession, pioneers, social reformers, protectors, and role models of society.

Donald L. Johnson of the Cameron High School Alumni Association says, “Terry, what an excellent job done on the chapter for Prof. Henry Cameron!  You actually brought him to life and gave him an identity and an existence. I commend you for your research and writing ability.”


Prudence Crandall: She Dared to Teach African American Students

Prudence+Crandall+closeThere are many courageous teachers who have made great sacrifices for the sake of their students. One of these was Quaker Prudence Crandall, a Connecticut teacher who lost everything in order to educate African American girls in a time when doing so was unheard of.

In 1831, Prudence opened a boarding school for young ladies in Canterbury, Connecticut. By the end of the first year, she had earned the praise of parents, community members, and students throughout New England.

Then one day an African American student named Sarah Harris asked to be admitted to the academy. Sarah said she wanted to learn how to be a teacher so she could open her own school for black students. Prudence knew admitting an African American student would generate some resistance from her neighbors, but after some soul-searching, she decided her conscience would not allow her to refuse the request. Prudence had severely under-estimated the resistance.

Figuring the complaint was that she was operating an integrated school, the intrepid teacher closed her academy for white girls and re-opened as an academy for “misses of color.” That just made the situation worse, causing ripples all the way up to the U.S. Supreme Court and resulting in Prudence’s brief incarceration in the local jail. Eventually, Prudence was forced to close her school and leave town.

Years later, however, the courageous stance taken by this heroic teacher caused her to be named the Female State Hero for Connecticut. Read the gripping account of what happened in my newly-released book, Chalkboard Heroes, now available on

Author Mary Breu reviews Chalkboard Heroes

Below you will find a review of my recently released book, Chalkboard Heroes, written by Mary Breu, author of Last Letters from Attu, the enthralling story of Etta Jones, an intrepid teacher and nurse from New Jersey who traveled to the Alaskan Territory as a pioneer. Etta Jones was incarcerated in a Japanese prisoner of war camp during World War II.

Chalkboard Heroes: Review

by Mary Breu

authorTerry Lee Marzell, Chalkboard Heroes: Twelve Courageous Teachers and Their Deeds of Valor. Tucson, Arizona: Wheatmark, 2015. vii + 243 pp. Preface, photographs, glossary, bibliography, index.

Chalkboard Heroes: Twelve Courageous Teachers and Their Deeds of Valor is the author’s second book, a non-fiction compilation of innovative teachers who have impacted their students and our society; some names are familiar, others are not. Each profile has been thoroughly researched and includes vivid descriptions that exemplify qualities that make an excellent teacher. The reader can peek through a window and see the teachers’ early lives, watch him or her develop and see what inspired their passion for teaching. The teachers’ voices allow the reader to get a feel for the personalities and qualities of people who encouraged them to become teachers. The teachers in this book demonstrate the essence of what a teacher does; they find ways, sometimes against incredible odds, to reach his or her students and make learning more real as opposed to standing in front of the class and lecturing. Valuable backgrounds and historical events are included. The author’s writing style pulls the reader in by telling something striking about the teacher and that makes the reader eager to find out more.

Horace Mann’s niece, Olive Mann Isbell, was born in Ohio in 1824. Twenty-two years later, she and her husband found themselves at a Mission in California. The Mexican -American War was raging all around them, but Olive continued to teach her twenty students, using “a long pointed stick to draw diagrams on the dirt floor” and “charcoal from an extinguished fire to write the letters of the alphabet on the palms of the children’s hands. And she kept a long rifle by her side, just in case” (Page 2.) One hundred forty years later, another teacher “discovered that much information about the social history of the United States has been found in diaries, travel accounts and personal letters. Just as the pioneer travelers of the Conestoga wagon days kept personal journals, I, as a pioneer space traveler, would do the same.” (Page 187.) The teacher’s name was Christa McAuliffe. The author wrote, “Christa believed that such a journal, which would record space flight from the perspective from a non-astronaut, would demonstrate to students that even an ordinary person could contribute to history in very important ways” (Page 187).

Today, when teachers are in the throes of bureaucratic paperwork, subjected to administrators who make unrealistic demands, respond to parents who question a teacher’s seemingly unreasonable assignments and deal with students who, the teacher knows, come from incredibly difficult home environments, reading about these teachers’ lives will be an inspiration because, in the end, all a teacher wants to do is teach. The common thread woven into the fabric of this book is a quote from Lee Iacocca: “In a completely rational society, the best of us would aspire to be teachers and the rest of us would have to settle for something less, because passing civilization along from one generation to the next ought to be the highest honor and highest responsibility anyone could have” (Page 1.) Christa McAuliffe understood that message when she proclaimed, “I touch the future…I teach!” (Page 177.)

I recommend this book to teachers of all grade levels. Middle and high school students would also benefit from the author’s clear, concise and correct telling of historical events and people.


Read More by Mary Breu

To view Mary Breu’s web page, simply click on Mary Breu.

To  find Mary Breu’s book on, click on Last Letters from Attu.


Exploring Ways to Include Blogs in Classroom Instruction

Within my professional learning community, my colleagues and I have been having a lively discussion about the purpose and value of blogs. So I was looking over the blog I created on Blogspot, the precursor to this website, which I inaugurated on November 18, 2012. In the little over two years since I started my first blog, I have published nearly 300 posts. To date, I have attracted over 24,889 page views. I’ve been told this is pretty impressive, so I thank all my Blogspot readers! I love to write about great teachers, and I hope that my posts and books will inspire respect for educators, and also reinforce a passion for the profession from current practitioners.

Even though my favorite thing to write about is remarkable teachers, it seems that the posts that garner the most response are the ones that offer tips and hints about how teachers can build upon their own practice. So this post is an offering in that vein.

As you can expect from teachers, most of the conversations I’ve had with my colleagues have revolved around how blogs can be used productively in the classroom. There are so many possibilities to use blogs as an effective instructional tool! Some of the purposes we discussed include providing opportunities for educators to personally reflect on teaching experiences, to provide tips and strategies to other teachers, to record lesson plans and other curricular materials, and to explore issues and topics important to the profession. You can use the platform to keep parents informed of your instructional program. You can create an online book club for your students, or post assignments, writing prompts, or online readings for students to react to. You could showcase your students’ writing, art, and projects. You could build a class newsletter and record your students’ activities, posting photographs and videos of them in action. Using blogs, students can express opinions about class readings or current events, complete class writing assignments, put together an online portfolio of their work, or showcase products of their project-based learning, all for a pre-determined audience: just the members of the class and their parents, groups of students in other schools, or even the world at large. This real-world application of the technology falls in line very nicely with Common Core State Standards—which is a genuine benefit.

I’ve included here a ten-minute YouTube video to help you further explore the practice of classroom blogging. If you are not yet using blogs in your instructional program, I hope that now you will feel confident enough to give it a try!