Chalkboard Champion Tevester Anderson: High school biology teacher and basketball coach

Often talented high school coaches become accomplished college-level coaches. This is certainly the case with Tevester Anderson, who spent two decades as a high school biology teacher and basketball coach and 16 years as an assistant coach at the college level before landing his first position as a Division 1 Head Coach at the age of 61.

Tevester was born February 25, 1937, in Canton, Mississippi. In 1962, he earned his bachelor’s degree in pre-medicine from Arkansas AM & N University, now known as Arkansas at Pine Bluff. In 1971, he completed the requirements for his master’s degree in biological science from North Carolina AT&T State University.

Tevester decided against a career in medicine and instead accepted a position teaching biology and coaching basketball at Canton High School, where he worked from 1962 to 1971. From 1971 to 1980 he taught at Fulton High School. As a high school coach, he was a pioneer in helping integrate high 
school sports. “I learned you can save just as many lives as a 
coach and a teacher as you can as a doctor,” he once said.

Later, Tevester worked as an Assistant Coach at Auburn University in Auburn, Alabama, as an Associate Coach at the University of Georgia, in Atlanta, Georgia, and, finally, as a Head Coach at both Murray State University in Murray, Kentucky, and Jackson State University in Jackson, Mississippi. During his time as Head Coach at Murray State, Tevester led his team to an overall record of 103-52 with two Ohio Valley Conference titles and two appearances in the NCAA Tournament. During his ten-year tenure at Jackson, Tevester led the Tigers to an overall record of 149-170.

This chalkboard champion retired in June, 2013. “We sincerely thank Coach Anderson for his contributions to Jackson State University,” commented Vivian Fuller, acting Athletic Director for JSU. “He is truly a professional in collegiate athletics.”

Michelle Obama recognizes Michigan’s Terri Tchorzynski as School Counselor of the Year

In previous posts I have expressed my strong belief that, like classroom teachers, school counselors are chalkboard champions, too. So it truly excites me to discover that our nation’s First Lady, Michelle Obama, also values the hard work and commitment these dedicated professionals provide to our young people. In a White House ceremony held Friday, January 6, Mrs. Obama honored fifty of our nation’s most talented school counselors, and recognized one of them, Terri Tchorzynski from Battle Creek, Michigan, as the School Counselor of the Year.

Terri works at the Calhoun Area Career Center in Battle Creek, Michigan. A graduate of Central Michigan University and Spring Arbor University, this dedicated educator has been a high school counselor for seven years. Previous to her service in this capacity, Terri served as an English teacher and girls’ varsity basketball coach. One of Terri’s most impressive achievements as a counselor was the creation of school-wide college-readiness program.

The ceremony to recognize the work of school counselors is part of Mrs. Obama’s Reach Higher initiative. The fifty finalists who attended the White House event were selected by the American School Counselor Association. The criteria used to select the honorees include creative school counseling innovations, effective school counseling programs, leadership skills, and contributions to student achievement.

Well done, Terri, and congratulations to the 49 other honorees! As Mrs. Obama said, “You are Heroes!”

Educator and Political Activist Jose Ferrer Canales

The teaching profession abounds with talented and dedicated educators who have devoted their entire lives to their practice. Such is certainly the case with Jose Ferrer Canales, a high school Spanish teacher from Puerto Rico who was also an accomplished journalist, essayist, and political activist.

Jose was born in Santurce, San Juan, Puerto Rico, on September 18, 1913, into an impoverished, working-class family. As a youngster, he attended Pedro G. Boyco Elementary School, and as a teenager, he graduated from Central Superior High School. Because of his family’s poverty, Jose worked to help support his family, even though he was still in school.

After his high school graduation, Jose enrolled at the University of Puerto Rico, completing the requirements for his bachelor’s degree in 1937. In 1944, he earned his MA in Arts. Jose accepted his first teaching position at a high school in Humacao, where he taught Spanish from 1937 to 1943. Once he earned his master’s degree, Jose was awarded a grant to continue his studies in Spanish and Latin American literature at Columbia University in New York City. While in New York, Jose taught Spanish at Hunter College.

In 1946, the veteran educator returned to his home island where he accepted a position in the Department of Humanities at the University of Puerto Rico. There he became actively involved in the island’s pro-independence movement. In 1949, when he was fired from the university because of his political activities, he relocated to the United States, where he taught at universities in Louisiana, Texas, and Washington, DC. After some years, Jose moved to Mexico, where he attended the National Autonomous University of Mexico, earning his PhD in Letters in 1952. In 1963, Jose was able to once again return to his home island and his position at the University of Puerto Rico. He pursued contributions to the field of education and the publication of numerous essays and journal articles until his retirement in 1983.

Because of his lengthy and distinguished career, Jose earned several prestigious honors. He was given the Journalist Prize from the Institute of Puerto Rican Culture in 1990. He was honored with the Prize of Honor from the Puerto Rican Athenaeum in 1994. He was also named the Humanist of the Year by the Puerto Rican Humanities Foundation in 1997.

This chalkboard champion passed away of natural causes on July 20, 2005, in Hato Rey, Puerto Rico. He was 91 years old. He is interred at Villa Palmaeras Cemetery in Puerto Rico.