Science teacher Ann Mah also serves in the Kansas House of Representatives

28 Ann MahOften talented educators also become accomplished politicians. This is true of Ann E. Mah, a high school teacher who was also elected as a Democrat to the Kansas House of Representatives.

Ann was born on May 5, 1951, in Clay Center, Kansas. Her parents were Wayne and Evelyn Clark. Young Ann was raised in Haysville near Wichita, where her father was a machinist at Boeing and her mother was a public school teacher.

Ann graduated from Haysville Campus High School.  She earned her bachelor’s degree from Emporia State University in 1973 and her master’s degree from Emporia in 1978. She served as a high school science teacher in Chase County public schools from 1973-1978, and as a teacher in Emporia public schools from 1977-1979.

Ann was elected to the Kansas House of Representatives in 2005. While in office, Ann represented the 53rd district. She served on the committees for education, higher education, and local government. She also served on the Kansas Advisory Committee on Career and Technical Education in the Kansas Department of Education. She served until 2013.

Ann and her husband, Larry, have one child, a son named Cary, and one grandchild. The couple lives in Topeka, Kansas. Currently, Ann works as a trainer and motivational speaker, and is the owner of Discover! Strategies. She is a member of the Capitol Area Federated Women’s Democratic Club, Shawnee County Democrats, State Committee of the North Central Association, and serves on the Board of Directors of the United Way of Greater Topeka. Active as a community volunteer, she has also served on the United Way of Greater Topeka Board of Directors and the Shawnee Heights Public Schools Foundation Board of Directors.

In 1997, Ann was selected National Woman of the Year by the American Business Women’s Association. She was also voted the Topeka YWCA Woman of Excellence.

Chalkboard Champion Albert Cullum: He Introduced an Element of Play Into the Curriculum

teacher_recentOftentimes a gifted educator serves as an inspiration not only for his students, but for other teachers as well. Such is certainly the case for chalkboard champion Albert Cullum.

Albert Cullum was born in November of 1921. His career as an educator began in the 1940’s, after a failed attempt at a career as a Broadway actor. He accepted a teaching position at St. Luke’s School in Greenwich village in New York City, but quickly realized this would be no easy gig. “I knew after the first month [at the job that] something was missing,” he once confessed. “I realized, ‘I’m not having fun. If I’m not having fun, no one in the room is having fun’…. I realized there should be more play during the day… more learning that is playful.” After that, the neophyte educator completely changed his style of teaching. Instead of the prevailing Dick and Jane style, he opted to introduce his children to classic literature such as Shakespeare and Greek drama.

After St. Luke’s, Albert taught at the Midland School in Rye, New York, a suburb of New York City, from 1956 to 1966. As a trailblazer in American education, Albert ignited the imagination of countless young students. Through his passionate use of poetry and drama, he helped build students’ self-confidence and inspired them to new heights of originality and joy. It was during this time that he and his close friend Robert Downey, Sr., filmed the footage seen in the movie A Touch of Greatness, an Emmy-nominated documentary about Albert’s work in the classroom.

Eventually Albert became a professor of education at Boston University and Stonehill College, a liberal arts college in Massachusetts. At Stonehill, he trained aspiring teachers for more than thirty years. In addition to his teaching, Albert worked with the Massachusetts Department of Youth Services using poetry and drama as a therapeutic tool for incarcerated male and female adolescents. He also authored numerous books on education, including The Geranium On The Windowsill Just Died But Teacher You Went Right On (Harlin Quist Books: 2000), which sold over half a million copies, and Push Back the Desks (MacMilan: 1967), considered a classic in the field of education.

After teaching his final class for the semester in May, 2003, Albert’s health began to fail. The innovative and prolific educator passed away on July 13, 2003.”Teachers can be the bearers of gifts,” Albert once said. “Not only do we have the privilege of introducing great literature to young imaginative minds, but we also have the priceless opportunity of giving each child the gift of believing in him or herself.”

Cruising or Crashing: What’s Your Experience with Technology in the Classroom?

OC turn 3-1Having devoted nearly three and a half decades to perfecting my practice, I’d love to feel as though I could cruise leisurely through my finely-tuned lesson plans until I sail languidly into the port of retirement. However, like many teachers at all stages of their career, I feel instead that I am racing at breakneck speed through a vast ocean of technological innovation, hanging on for dear life lest I be knocked overboard into a sea of electronic devices and internet resources. Will I drown? Will I be eaten alive? Which devices and resources are the lifesavers, and which ones are the sharks? It’s hard to say.

Here is an four-minute YouTube video that demonstrates the urgency to finding the answer to this question:

I recommend searching out an innovative program at your local university. Having gotten my feet wet swimming in the pool of courses in Educational Technology offered by Cal State Long Beach, I can truly say I have found a beacon and a buoy. The skills I have learned there, the leadership of a remarkable team of professors, and the collaboration of my fellow learners—these have become my best life preservers.

Don’t flounder around out there on your own! Once you have found the leaning community that best meets your needs, hang on, employ your most tried-and-true survival strategies, and enjoy the ride!

Dr. Jessie Voigts publishes review of Chalkboard Heroes

I’m excited to announce that today Dr. Jessie Voigts of Newago, Michigan, published a review of Chalkboard Heroes on her website, www.WanderingEducators.com. Dr. Voigts, who holds a PhD in International Education, is the director of the Youth Travel Blogging Mentorship Program, the co-founder of Writing Walking Women, and she has published six books of her own. Here is an excerpt of her review:

Chalkboard Heroes: Twelve Courageous Teachers and Their Deeds of Valor

You know what I love? Stories of awesome people. They inspire, teach, and lead by example. Such is the case with Chalkboard Heroes, a marvelous new book by Terry Lee Marzell.

I think that to write about incredible people, you must be an incredible person, yourself. And so it is. Terry has been an educator in Corona, California, for the past thirty-three years, working at both the high school and the junior high school levels. She has taught English, developmental reading, drama, journalism, library science, geography, and interior design. She has also served as her school’s cheerleading advisor for four years, the drama coach for two years, and the school’s newspaper advisor for five years. Throughout her long career as an educator, she has worked with English-language learners and students in honors courses, and she has been a mentor for both International Baccalaureate candidates and special education students. Terry has seven years of experience as a home-stay coordinator and tour escort for students from abroad. In addition, she has mentored several collegiate student teachers. She is currently serving her school as a district librarian.

picture-4Let’s talk about her new book, Chalkboard Heroes. This is a remarkable, inspiring book of – yes, you guessed it – remarkable, inspiring teachers. What springs to mind when I read this? That ordinary people can do extraordinary things. That beliefs COUNT. That teachers are pretty special, indeed.

What I love most about this book is the care taken in writing these lives. You can tell that Terry loves teachers, writing, researching, and the selflessness and caring that teachers bring to their students.

This book? It’s a gift to the world, an act of love that shows how important teachers are, throughout history. We know the stories of some – Christa McAuliffe, Robert Moses, Dave Sanders. The stories of others I didn’t know both educate and warm my heart, from coping with racism to the frontier, from gender to social change. This is a history book, an ode to the teaching profession, and a deep look into the lives of teachers. But most of all, it’s a compilation of incredible lives, spent in the pursuit of something they cherished. That is, indeed, remarkable.

You can read the entire review at: www.Wandering Educators.com

Chalkboard Champion and Tennessee Teacher William A. Feilds

150px-William_A_FeildsOften talented educators also become accomplished politicians. Such is the case with Tennessee school teacher William A. Feilds.

William A. Feilds was born into slavery near Fisherville in the county of Shelby located in west Tennessee in circa 1846. Although many records spell his surname as “Field” or “Fields,” William himself seems generally to have used the “e-i” combination, normally adding a final “s.”

Through years of hard work and close application to study, William earned his teaching certificate which qualified him to teach in the public schools. By 1883, William had become the principal of Shelby County’s 5th District school, at that time located on Waldran Avenue just beyond the Memphis city limits, not far from where Memphis Central High School stands today.

In addition to his career as a schoolteacher and principal, William served one term in the Tennessee House of Representatives as a member of the Republican party. He served from 1885-1886. During his years of service in the legislature, William was particularly interested in efforts to educate black children and to give African Americans greater control over the schools in their communities.  He urged passage of his bill, HB 119, which would require parents and guardians to enroll children aged 7-16 in school for 120 days per year. After he left the legislature, William was also elected a member of the Shelby County County Court, a legislative body, and he served as a justice of the peace.

On December 29, 1874, William A. Feilds married Elizabeth Feilds. The couple had three children: Mary, Cyrus William, and Stella. He is also purported to be the great-great-grandfather of actress and recording artist Vanessa Williams.

This chalkboard champion passed away on September 9, 1898.