About Terry Lee Marzell

Terry Lee Marzell holds a bachelor's degree in English from Cal State Fullerton and a master's degree in Interdisciplinary Studies from Cal State San Bernardino. She also holds a certificate for Interior Design Level 1 from Mt. San Antonio College. She has been an educator in the Corona Norco Unified School District for more than 30 years.

Author Terry Lee Marzell to appear at Tucson Festival of Books

Author Terry Lee Marzell will be appearing at the 2018 Tucson Festival of Books to be held on March 10-11 on the campus of the University of Arizona, Tucson. Terry’s appearance will be in the Wheatmark Publishers booth, Booth 402, on Sunday, March 11, from 9:30 to 11:00 a.m.

This year’s celebration of literature will be the tenth year of the annual festival. Over the last decade, the two-day event has grown to become the third largest reader event in the country. Each year, the festival attracts more than 130,000 book lovers who enjoy author presentations, panel discussions, workshops, exhibits, and great food. This year, event organizers are offering special programming for children and teens, a literary circus, culturally diverse programs, and a poetry venue. And it’s all free to the public! To learn more about the Tucson Festival of Books, visit their website at TFoB.

Terry Lee Marzell is the author of two books about remarkable teachers in American history: Chalkboard Champions (Wheatmark, 2012) and Chalkboard Heroes (Wheatmark, 2015). She is a retired secondary school teacher and school librarian, who is engaged today as an author, blogger, public speaker, and adult literacy tutor. Come visit her at the Tucson Festival of Books!




West Virginia’s Lavinia Norman: The Chalkboard Champion of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority

Many dedicated educators have devoted their entire professional lives to the classroom. One such educator is Lavinia Norman, a high school languages teacher from West Virginia who is also known as one of the original founders of the prestigious Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority.

Lavinia was born on December 14, 1882, in Montgomery, Fayette County, West Virginia. She was the eighth of sixteen children in the family of Thomas and Virginia Norman. Young Lavinia spent her early years in elementary schools in West Virginia, but when her father found employment with the US Postal Service, the family moved to Washington, DC.

In 1901, Lavinia enrolled in preparatory school at Howard University, a traditionally Black college located in our nation’s capital. At the time, there were very few women enrolled at Howard. While at Howard, Lavinia became one of the 16 original founding members of the prestigious Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority. The young scholar graduated cum laude in 1905 with a degree in English and French. Later, she returned to college to earn a second bachelor’s degree from West Virginia State College, another historically Black university located in Charleston, West Virginia, in 1934.

After her graduation, Lavinia accepted a position as a teacher at Douglass High School in Huntington, West Virginia, where she worked her entire professional career. During her tenure, she taught English, French, and Latin. She also served as her high school’s drama coach and the adviser of the school newspaper. In 1950, this chalkboard champion retired after a distinguished career of forty years in education. 

Lavinia passed away in Washington, DC, on January 22, 1983, at the age of 100. To learn more about this amazing educator, click on this link, Virginia Commonwealth University, or the website for Alpha Kappa Alpha.

Honoring African American Teacher Comfort Baker

Chalkboard Champions continues to spotlight outstanding African American educators. Today we focus on Comfort Baker, an orphan from North Carolina who became a teacher in Arkansas and Texas. Her story is one of commitment, resilience, and perseverance.

Comfort was born in New Bern, Craven County, North Carolina, in circa 1869. Sadly, the child became an orphan at the age of 13, and so she was sent to Omaha, Nebraska, to live with an aunt and uncle. When she was 15, Comfort enrolled at Omaha High School. Unfortunately, the same year her uncle also passed away, and her aunt became confined to a mental hospital.

Faced with the necessity of supporting herself, Comfort secured a job as a domestic in the household of Watson B. Smith. In 1889, after three years of hard work, Comfort finally graduated from high school. She was the first African American student to graduate from high school in Omaha, Nebraska.

Following her high school graduation, Comfort enrolled in Fisk University, a historically Black university located in Nashville, Tennessee. She was able to attend college with the financial assistance of Belle H. Lewis, a high school teacher in Omaha. Comfort earned her diploma from Fisk in 1893.

Comfort accepted her first position when she became a summer school teacher in Newport, Jackson County, Arkansas, but by 1896 she was teaching in the town of Corsicana in Navarro County, Texas, and by 1905, she was teaching in Gainesville, Cooke County, Texas. During her career as an educator, she served as a principal of an African American school. She was published numerous articles to the Omaha newspaper, The Enterprise.

This month, we honor the life and career of teacher Comfort Baker.

Chalkboard Champion Bryan Still: From NFL to Virginia Classroom

There are many fine examples of professional athletes who go on to successful careers in the classroom. One such athlete is Bryan Andrei Still, a physical education teacher from Virginia who was a former professional football player.

Bryan was born on June 3, 1974, in Newport News, Virginia. As a youth, he attended Huguenot High School in Richmond, Virginia. Upon his high school graduation, Bryan enrolled at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University located in Blacksburg, Virginia. There the 5’11”, 174-pound wide receiver played college football. In fact, this outstanding athlete went with the Virginia Tech Hokies to the Nokia Sugar Bowl, where the team came from behind to defeat Texas 28-10. Bryan garnered the coveted Most Valuable Player Award for that game. You can read more about this spectacular victory by clicking on this link: HokieSports.com.

After college, Bryan was drafted into the National Football League (NFL). He played first for the San Diego Chargers (1996-1999), then the Atlanta Falcons (1999), and finally the Dallas Cowboys (1999). In total, Bryan played 52 games in the NFL. To examine Bryan’s statistics, you can check them out on NFL.com.

Currently, Bryan teaches physical education and health education at Cosby High School, a public school located in Midlothian, Virginia. He also coaches track and field there.

Charge on, Brian Still!

Dr. Melissa Crum: Thoughts about Diversity Education

As educators, it is always fitting and proper to think about how we can best serve the needs of the students of color who comprise our classroom population. This is particularly true during Black History Month. In this TED Talk, the issue is explored by Dr. Melissa Crum, an education consultant, diversity practitioner, and artist who conducts workshops with many educators in urban schools. Dr. Crum was inspired to do this work when she remembered incidents from her own childhood, and when she observed that many teachers have challenges teaching and relating to students who do not share their same cultural background. In response, she worked with a museum educator to create an arts-based professional development series that helps educators reflect about how they are interacting with their students. Here she shares her inspirational and eye-opening message that everyone who works with students should hear.